Stuart Macintyre, The Poor Relation. A History of Social Sciences in Australia Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 355-358 DOI 10.1007/s11024-011-9173-3 Authors Henrika Kuklick, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, 303 Cohen Hall, 249 South 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6304, USA Journal Minerva Online ISSN 1573-1871 Print ISSN 0026-4695 Journal Volume Volume 49 Journal Issue Volume 49, Number 3.
In the latter part of the nineteenth century, diverse sciences grounded in natural history made a virtue of field research that somehow tested scientists' endurance; disciplinary change derived from the premise that witnesses were made reliable by character-molding trials. The turn to the field was a function of structural transformations in various quarters, including (but hardly limited to) global politics, communications systems, and scientific institutions, and it conduced to biogeographical explanations, taxonomic schemes that admitted of heterogeneity, and affective research styles. (...) Sociocultural anthropology, which took specialized shape at the beginning of the twentieth century, shared many properties with other field sciences, but its method—participant observation—was distinctive. Critical to the method's definition were the efforts of the British experimental psychologist-anthropologist W. H. R. Rivers, who relied on notions then widespread in Europe and the United States. The discipline's future mythic hero, Bronislaw Malinowski, embraced Rivers's model. For both men, proper fieldwork meant using the researcher's body as an instrument and entailed understanding both the anthropologist's body and the research subject's body as energy systems; this symmetry facilitated a relativist perspective. Participant observation remains central to sociocultural anthropology, but the discipline's pedagogic habits contributed to loss of memory of its energetic conceptualization. -/- . (shrink)