David I. Kertzer

Anthropology and Demography

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Culture; American Anthropology; American Demography; Survey; Participant Observation.

This article examines American scholars' attempts over the past several decades to bring sociocultural anthropological methods and theory into demography. It reviews the perceived theoretical and methodological shortcomings of demography that have led demographers to seek greater anthropological input into their field. On the theoretical side, these include a recognition of the need to deal with the role of culture. The implications of the fact that anthropological theories of the nature of culture differ from common usages of the concept in demography are explored. Methodologically, many demographers, in recognizing the limitations of the survey research methods that dominate their field, have likewise looked to anthropology for potential methodological enrichment. Problems with the common erroneous equation of all qualitative research methods with anthropological methods are discussed. The obstacles posed to greater integration of anthropological and demographic research from within American anthropology, in part due to antipositivist sentiments in the discipline, are also considered.

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