Anthropology, the study of different cultures, is unique among social sciences. The field has grown over the past century to become more formal and scientific and so too have the distinctions grown that separate Anthropology from other fields. The first unique aspect of anthropology is fieldwork, which allows the anthropologist to observe, interact and record the different cultures and behaviors heshe encounters. Field work can involve long-term stays among the people being studied as well as participation, to an extent, in the cultures which is being observed. Briefly discussed as a concept, the presence of field work is evident in the study of the other two major aspects. Second, is the lack of structured research, as a single structured approach is rarely effective in the situations encountered by anthropologists lastly, communication plays a major role in both field work and the examination of cultures from afar. Communication conotates, not only speaking the language but understanding it. Also, though not necessarily an aspect of anthropology, an open mind and willingness to look past their own culture as a right and meaningful understanding of the world are required in approaching this field of study.
The basic anthropological idea of reflecting and exploring the broad range of cultures evident across the globe, is still an attractive one, particular in these days of globalization where the lines between cultures and nations have blurred. Unlike the explorers and colonists of yester year, the anthropologists of the 20th and 21st century do not indulge in blatant ethnocentrism which inevitably hardens into the conviction that everything they do or think is right, and everything anyone else does or thinks is wrong, unreasonable, or even wicked (Metcalf, 2005 p. 7). Miners examination of the Nacirema of North America (1956) shows the struggle against ethnocentrism. He notes half way through his description of the rituals of the Nacirema, One has but to watch the gleam in the eye of a holy-mouth-man, as he jabs an awl into an exposed nerve, to suspect that a certain amount of sadism is involved  a very interesting pattern emerges, for most of the population shows definite masochistic tendencies (Miner, 1956). Miners perceptions are grounded in Western view of the human body and pain, which allows relationship between the inflictor of pain and the victim to be cleanly categorized as sado-masochist, doing little justice to the meaning for the Nacirema.
Working and living among the cultures which they are studying, it is may be difficult for an anthropologist to separate themselves from their own ideals and culture. In particular, initial involvement in the culture will likely rely on the personal and emotional, rather than objective, facts. Anthropologist, Elizabeth Warnock Fernea in her study of an Iraqi village in the 1950s immediately encountered her limitations of observation. Upon first meeting the village Sheiks wives, Fernea has difficulties telling the women apart, They looked that day so remarkably alike in their identical black headscarves, black chin scarves, and black abayahs (1986 p. 29). Later, her initial judgments give way to the participative observation of her study, including the wearing of the abayah and being secluded as the village women. Through her fieldwork and the gradual building of close ties that develop from her ready involvement in their lives, Fernea comes to know the women and recognize their individualities (2005 p. 29).As Ferneas experiences shows, anthropologists do not work in a sterile environment, but instead it resembles, as Metcalf describes, detective work more than laboratory science (2005 p. 12). Anthropologists are constantly re-examined, in search of new leads  there is no foolproof defense against misunderstanding, whatever its origin  They have had to revise their ideas enough times to doubt the conclusion is final (Metcalf, 2005 p. 1215).
Communication, as Fernea and Metcalf, attest to is probably the most important of the aspects that define anthropological study. An anthropologist is attempting to learn not only the rituals and edicts of a culture but to understand those particular peoples ideas on the most universal of concepts. Metcalf notes the role of an informant as a key element to understanding this latter part of language. As he explains, Informants provide a bridge between cultures because they tolerate questions that no local person would ever ask (2005 p. 14). The importance of communication is not limited to the learning the language, but is equally effected by social customs as well. When Fernea arrives in El Nahra, her husband explains his difficulties in penetrating the seclusion of the women in the village. Kept from the eyes of men who are not family, they live in a cloistered world that Bob cannot enter without offending one of the deepest customs of their culture. Explaining this to his wife, Bob states, Ive been here for two months and the Sheiks family  hasnt even been mentioned in my presence (Fernea, 1986 p. 25). With his wifes assistance, Bob is able to better communicate and understand the full breadth of this society from both gender perspectives.

In the unstructured research situation that anthropologists find themselves, at times it is difficult for the anthropologist to ignore their own socialization. In Joan Cassells compilation of ethical issues in anthropological case studies, an anthropologist in Mexico describes the hardship of deciding between personal belief and the beliefs of the community. After living in the area for months and developing productive relationships with many of the townspeople, the individual is approached by a battered wife who asks for help escaping her husband. The anthropologist is torn between anthropology and conscience but eventually agrees to give the woman a ride the next day. Knowing that she could have jeopardized months of study and trust building, she describes a restless night left wondering whether I had made the right decision. Maybe I should have gone to speak with the womans husband  just cancelled my trip (Cassell, 2006). Though she is saved by the womans decision to depart through other means, it is nevertheless a valuable example of the unique struggle of an anthropologist.
Anthropology stands out as an individual in the field of social science. Admitting and almost embracing the fallibility of humans and the ways in which we interact, anthropologists to not suppose to know the answers. Rather through the unique process of ridding themselves of cultural prejudices, immersing themselves in participative field work and observation, learning to communicate and understand the people who they are, anthropologists attempt to learn from the world. Even now, in the modern world as the expanses between city and town, anthropologists are finding new frontiers to study and new cultures over every horizon.


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