Research, analysis and writing of anthropological works can be compared to an engaged conversation that simultaneously looks forward and backward. Defined as the scientific study of the origin, behavior and the physical, social and cultural study on the development of human beings, anthropology is based on various themes (Paolo, 1992, P.65). There are various themes which have been put forth to explain anthropology as a discipline. One such aspect is the matter on agency and structure. Anthropology in this case can be evaluated on the basis of its agency and structure, which are also aspects that govern conversations between individuals.
Agency in this case refers to the capacity of an individual to act independently to make their own free choices with regard to issues that affect them. Individuals posses the freewill to make informed decisions in order to fulfill their expectations and this is a common characteristic with the human behavior (Keddia, Willigen, 2005, P.44). Structure by contrast, refers to the recurrent patterned arrangements which seem to influence or limit the choices and opportunities that individuals possess.In this case, anthropology is influenced by agency and structure and this is the same with an engaged conversation.
Just like an engaged conversation allows individuals to choose the words and phrases that they want but limit their words based on the audience and social, the agency and structure aspect of anthropology does the same way (Milton, 1996, P.231). Individuals are limited by structure to limit the choice of words to use and the gestures to make depending on the norms and acceptable standards in the society. Just like anthropology is determined by agency and structure, the conduct in a conversation can be likened to it.
Social structures that have been put into place greatly determine the behavior that an individual adopts. There are norms that guide the behavior of any society through controlling their actions and setting standards for them. An engaging conversation in the same way has controls that govern the exchange between individuals (Lewellen, 2002, P.34). There has to sameness and differences in order to initiate and sustain a conversation. The individuals should have sameness in the language spoken and reason at the same level in order to recount past and future events.
Difference in opinions is an aspect that helps the parties engaged in the discussion exchange ideas and arguments. This is the same case with the epistemology aspect of anthropology which focuses on the knowledge of human beings (Strathern, 1996, P.530). Knowledge can be in the form of ideas, experiences and opinions about the world. When individuals engage in a discussion, they exchange ideas and opinions which is developed on the basis of prior knowledge that the people have.
Human beings share characteristics and capacities in many aspects. Similar to an engaging conversation which requires that both individuals should have common measure between them, in anthropology the nature of being is an integral aspect. The question here is whether all human beings act and think the same and whether it is possible to understand other worlds based on the thoughts of people (Frierson, 2003, P.16). Because through interacting in a conversation it is possible to understand the reasoning and opinions of others, psychology can be compared to an engaging exchange between two parties.
In anthropology, as in all forms of academic inquiries, theories are formulated on the basis of questions. This is the same case with an engaging conversation which may be based on question and answer response of the parties that are involved (Barnard, 2000, P.56). Agency and structure are important aspects in this case since they control the flow and nature of the conversation the same way they govern the social conduct and behavior of a given community.
Culture of people could be studied as a language which is composed of a system of signs, sematic anthropology has shifted focus from language models and their use in cultural analysis to the meaning of what is said in a language (Reed-Danay, 1993, P.228). The language is a common characteristic among any given community and can be used in defining the origin of a particular society by attributing a particular language to a community.
Agency and structure in anthropology act as the rules that govern the social life of a given community (Laidlaws, 2002, P.316). By defining the expectations and limitations of each member of the society, they act the standards by which the society must abide by all types of engagements. Most sociologists hold the opinion that they have accounted for phenomena once they have show their usefulness, the role that they play and reasoning from their own (Leaf, 2000, P.57). The society exists to benefit its members but not for the members to benefit the society. The structure and agency measure act as a control to society practices by allowing individuals to act out of a free will to make choices but having a structure in place that limit heir activities. This is the same with an engaging conversation that simultaneous looks backwards and forward since the individual either focus on an event that has occurred and put forth future prospects of the case.
Through practice and experience in their fieldwork, anthropologists have been concerned with the study of the kinds of knowledge and skills that are generated in the course of people’s practical involvements. By interacting with others, people learn new ideas that they had no prior knowledge to and this increases their experiences (Darnell, 2005, P.58). Anthropological research, analysis and writing is the same as an engaging conversation whereby individuals get an opportunity to exchange ideas on the basis of their life experiences.
Theories are celebrated as most advanced product of human reason. There are many theories that have been developed to explain a particular phenomenon. Theoreticians are placed a rank higher than observers, experimentalists and technicians. On the contrary, there are many theories that have been developed with regard to anthropology with regard to the origin and general life history of communities (Donovan,2003, P91). Just the same way theories are based on extensive research to prove a hypothesis; conversations are held to clarify a concept or to affirm an opinion. Despite the individual’s difference in opinions while holding an engaging conversation they have to come to an agreement and hold the same argument.
Anthropological researches are based on extensive and exhaustive research and like engaging conversations, matters are investigated in depth. Anthropological theories design conceptual structures that are used in ranking ethnographers for use in the field while carrying out their research findings. For ethnographers, their own way of thinking have been fully constituted in advance and then applied to field data and continue to incorporate new participants (Willigen, 2002, P.96). This is the same way with conversations which allow the participation of new members into the discussion in order to point out the opinion of each member of the group. The structure of the discussion despite the number of participants is based on agency and structure whereby each member has the right to point out their opinions as long as the view is acceptable in the society.
There are social relationships among members of the society on the basis of age and sex. Based on scientific research, it is evident that social interactions occur in all levels of the society despite differences that may exist between the members. As members of a community engage in day to day activities they pass their time through engaging in conversations (Wolf, 2001, P.38). In this context, an individual initiates a conversation; people make their remarks with regard to the discussion being held. Remarks are then reached and all form a common opinion based on the matter being discussed.
In the same way there is agency and structure in anthropological researches, writing and analysis, it is required that the norms of the society need to be considered. An example is the case whereby obscene matters with regard to sex are not to be openly discussed with the presence of children. The society protects the innocent minds of the children and nurturing in them values that will mold them develop into responsible adults (Macarthur, 2006, P.113). Despite the fact that individuals posses the right to make free choices with regard to the conversations that they hold, obscene matters should be avoided. There therefore exists a structure that acts as the framework or the standard which should be followed in the incidence of making conversations.
Conversations among the youth in most societies were normally composed of suggestive remarks by the young men to whom the young women would reply with insulting remarks about the men and occasionally with suggestive remarks with their own. This reaction shows that it was not allowed in most societies to talk openly on the issue of sex since it is considered as a taboo (Michaelsen, 1999, P.80). Just as in the same case there is a structure that governs matters to be discussed in a conversation, there exists a structure that governs the behavior and conduct of a given group of people.
In a society, there are routine duties and responsibilities that should be adhered to by each member of the society. Anthropological research and analysis have found out that there are duties in the society that every member ought to participate in (Jenkins, 1994, P.453). Despite individuals acting out of a free will, they hold certain obligations in the society. This is the same way in an engaging conversation that looks back and forward whereby each member in the discussion group has a role to play.
In most societies despite the impacts of modernization, the father is expected to be the bread winner for the family. He is expected to cater for school fees, pay house rent and purchase food for the family (Bellier, 2000, P.141). The culture of any given society defines the role of each member and in case this is not adhered to, the individual is viewed as a failure since he has not fulfilled his goals. An example is the New Ireland whereby people have a duty to participate in legal duties.
Paying school fees for the children is the duty of the father. In this context, the singular aspect of paying the school fees evokes multiple concepts; that of the modern state codified matrilineal traditions and eclipsed cultural practices (Cohen, 1992, P.345). In an engaging conversation, each individual is expected to play a particular role to focus on the past and the future and in turn, it is regarded as a very involving and interactive venture.
Fieldwork studies are conducted in order to define a particular concept based on the origin, culture and behavior of communities (Moore, Sanders, 2006, P.252). This research may be either emic or etic with focus on the external and internal factors that affect the well being of a society. This is the same case with a conversation whereby there are both internal and external factors that will influence the conversation. However, the attempt to keep the factors that affect a society in isolation may halt the life of its members. The internal and external controls in any conversation therefore must be adhered to so as to make the conversation as engaging and meaningful as possible.
Ethnographic realism is achieved from professional consolidation. To realize the origin and the culture of a certain group of people, it takes the efforts of many experts in the fields of ethnography. A sole individual cannot come up with a substantial analysis of a community without relying past studies and experiences. This is the same case with a conversation that focuses on the past and the future with the fact that an individual cannot handle a dialogue in isolation (Beatie, 1999, P.115). In order to conduct a discussion, there has to be substantial number of people engaging in exchange of ideas. In addition, people rely on past facts and experiences. It is not possible to generate a conversation out of scratch without affirming to the ideas and opinions that have been held by others. Individuals in this case either criticize or dispute the views of others on the basis of their life experiences or the values they believe in.
There cannot be developed and sustained anthropology of ethics without there being also an ethnographic and theoretical interest. Morality acts as the standards that govern the conduct and behavior of any group of people who posses a common origin. Morality in this aspect is defined as a set of standards and rules that must be adhered to with regard to the conduct of individuals in a given society (Darnell, 2002, P.93). The standards in this case are the set of beliefs and values that govern a society. With regard to structure and agency, individuals have the right to act independently depending on their own preference; however, the structure aspect shapes the orals of the society by prohibiting and discouraging certain behaviors and practices in the society.
Crime is a vice that is discouraged in any society since it deprives other subjecting them to great pain and suffering (Caplan, 2003, P.87). Many ethnographers hold the opinion that there is nothing like the anthropology of ethics but this may be controversial. There is no recorded evidence to show the study of morality in anthropological researches but it is evident that morality and the society are two factors that are inseparable.
Despite there being set standards by which the society must abide to, there are bound to be resistances. Just like resistance occurs in communities, conversations can turn out to be heated arguments as people disapprove the opinions that are held by others (Goodman, 2003, P.306). Evidence on resistance in the community can be witnessed in the incidence of exercise of power. As leaders enforce decrees on their subjects, they may face resistance from individuals who do not affirm the rule of law.
Anthropological studies point out that Societies are inseparable from the rituals that they engage in in order to define the various phases of life. Examples of the activities that involve rituals include birth, initiation, marriages and death rituals. In each of these rituals, there are some practices that must be observed and there are standards that ought to be followed too. Ritualistic activities are interactive events in which members of the society meet and there are immense interactions (Kearney, 1996, P.92). An example is the case of a marriage ceremony which brings together people who may not have met in a very long time. Just like rituals are composed of interactive sessions, holding engaging conversations involves interactive sessions whereby individuals exchange their ideas and opinions regarding matters that affect them.
It is evident that Anthropological research is in ways similar to a conversation. Ranging from the interactivity and morality that guide a conversation, the two disciplines are very similar. In addition, agency and structure are important themes that govern the social structure of a society. Despite the possession of a true will to act in accordance with individual choices, there exists a structure that limits the individual’s independence to act out of a free will. With the development of modern technology, the social live of communities has been altered and people do seldom engage in physical interactions. Parents are deeply engrossed in their careers while children spent most of their time schooling, despite the changes in communication channels, engaging communications are still being held among members of the community. With this regard, there exist numerous similarities between Anthropological research, analysis and writing and the holding of an engaged conversation that simultaneously looks forward and backwards.