Archive for October 21st, 2012

Anthropology 101 – Definitions and a brief history of the discipline   no comments

Posted at 8:45 pm in Uncategorized

This week I have looked at the discipline of anthropology. In order to get a good introduction I still found is useful to read a few different introductory texts as each presents the discipline in slightly different ways. Here is what I found about anthropology as a discipline.

“The most scientific of the humanities, the most humanist of sciences”

Eric Wolf (in Erisken 2010, p. 1)

Malinowski, one of the forefathers of social anthropology


All the authors reviewed place anthropology at the intersection of social sciences and humanities. Peoples and Bailey outline 5 subfields of the discipline: physical/biological anthropology, archaeology, cultural anthropology, anthropological linguistics and applied anthropology. For the rest of this project, I will equate anthropology with the cultural anthropology subfield, which is also sometimes known as cultural and social anthropology (to satisfy both the American and British strands which emphasise culture and society respectively (Monaghan & Just, p. 12)). Eriksen defines anthropology as ‘the comparative study of cultural and social life’, with a focus on the ‘whole of human society’. He states that the discipline is about ‘how different people can be, but it also tries to find out in what sense it can be said that all humans have something in common’ (Eriksen 2010, pp. 1-4). This latter aspect of the discipline is highlighted in all three readings as something deeply fundamental.

Before proceeding to consider the approaches and methodologies of the field, I thought it would be useful to go through a brief history of anthropology, to emphasise preconceptions and misperceptions. Eriksen (2010, p. 10) notes its recent origins as an academic discipline during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  All the authors reviewed recognise that there is a romanticised version of the anthropologist as the intrepid explorer, out to discover and study ‘unspoilt’ societies. This, they agree, might have been true until the 1970s when all of this changed (Peoples & Bailey 2000, p. 6). The traditional focus of anthropological research on, small, non-Western, ‘exotic’ societies (to demarcate it from the discipline of sociology which traditionally focused on large, Western ones) was abandoned and topics such as American bodybuilders, the decline of the middle class and family life at Silicon Valley now form part of contemporary anthropological research projects (Peoples & Bailey, p. 6). This, coupled with the fact that anthropology is no longer the prerogative of Western scholars, is important to note in our study of the discipline itself, but also of its perspective on the topic of the global digital divide.

Next week I will present the various approaches and methodologies prevalent in the field.



Eriksen, T. H. (2010) Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology 3rd edition, New York: Pluto Press

Monaghan, J. and Just, P. (2000) Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Peoples, J. and Bailey, G. (2000) Humanity: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, 5th ed., Belmont: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning

Written by Jennifer Welch on October 21st, 2012

Moral Philosophy and Politics: An Oblique Perspective of E-Mail Hacking   no comments

Posted at 7:18 pm in Uncategorized

With an initial plan to scour the world for an insight into email hacking from the viewpoint of  economists and psychologists, it suddenly came to me that I would be playing too safe a game. With Marketing being a subject so diverse and multi-disciplined, that encompassed areas of psychology in buyer behaviour and economics in statistics analysis, it seemed I had bound myself to a study area that appears difficult to steer away from wholly.

As our world is overrun by hackers and a growing abundance of readily made hacking software and programmers keen to get their hands on whatever they seek it seems bizarre that we still are ready to advertise ourselves on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and many other ‘self-branded’ web sources. The web is such an intrinsic part of our everyday life that we become so wound up in its beauty that we are unaware of any imminent attacks on our personal data.

From e-mail to database systems, from banking to business data, we are inundated with those who wish to hack into our lives for every penny and every piece of information that we hold dear. From recent personal experience, I had been faced with the dilemma of attempting to redeem my own personal e-mail account from those who ‘hacked’ it. I believed this to be an arduous task that is morally, socially and, potentially, financially unacceptable. After this event, I felt that I would like to pursue an understanding of it from a different perspective and realised that this would be the perfect opportunity to do so.

I have now chosen two very different subjects: moral philosophy and politics. From my initial understanding of moral philosophy is an ethical analysis of the self, and the awareness of ethical (mis)representations of action or communication. From further reading, it is believed that moral philosophy is dependant on a number of different issues including cultural values, heritage, environment and obligation (Schneewind, 1992). The cultural values specifically interest me as it is not without doubt that the varying cultures will determine various perceptions of what is morally acceptable.

My second subject is in politics, which a subject that can both be the cause and consequence of societal change in any nation. This subject helps to define our understanding of culture, psychology, finance and communications and reveals itself as a tug-of-war between power and peace (Morgenthau, 1993), greed and ethics. Furthermore, it can help to define a nation and its outlook on the rest the world through the ideologies of various political leaders whether in a dictated land or otherwise.

It appears that subjects would have, although different, solid perspectives on communications hacking and extenuate the need for this issue to subside.  I will follow up my research by looking into how moral philosophy develops according to nation, race and culture. I will also seek further knowledge of political advances on e-mail hacking, whether they use it for unfair advantage or whether it is heavily moderated.

Guyer, P. (1992). The Cambridge Companion to Kant. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Morgenthau, H.J. (1993). Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace. Boston:McGraw-Hill



Written by Gareth Beeston on October 21st, 2012

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