Some weeks ago I once again had a conversation on the distinctions between social/cultural anthropology and neighbouring or kin disciplines. On the very same day a bookseller sent me an e-mail advertising the (quite costly) “Encyclopaedia of Social Anthropology” by Indian sociologist Henna Tabassum (2011). The book’s product overview gives a quite comprehensive description, which very much is in synch with my convictions:

Social anthropology is distinguished from subjects such as economics or political science by its holistic range and the attention it gives to the diversity of culture and society across the world and the capacity this gives the discipline to reexamine Euro American assumptions. It is differentiated from sociology, both in its main methods (based on long term participant observation and linguistic competence) and in its commitment to the relevance and illumination provided by micro studies. It extends beyond strictly social phenomena to culture, art, individuality, and cognition. While some social anthropologists use quantitative methods (Particularly those whose research touches on topics such as local economies, demography or health and illness) social anthropologists generally emphasize qualitative analysis of long-term fieldwork, rather than the more quantitative methods used by most economists or sociologists.

Today I googled for the book, pasting a sentence from above product overview into the searchfield, and got some hits—top of the heap is the section substantive focus and practice of Wikipedia’s article on social anthropology. The section’s opening paragraph is, word by word, identical with the product overview.
    Now, who has copied from whom?

  • Daniel Wednesday, 28th September 2011 at 15:30

    Haha awesome! You’ve earned a double LIKE for this post

    • zephyrin_xirdal Wednesday, 28th September 2011 at 17:34

      Why, thank you, Mr Woot. Of course I do not know what happened, and I do not want to spread unfounded accusations—the search-results just hit me today. In fact you can make a similar discovery within my own book “Cyberanthropology” … in slightly changed form a short piece of text (again: defining social/cultural anthropology) appearing in the book can be found on the German Wikipedia (and on my institute’s website). Meanwhile probably hidden deep down in a discussion page. But the text definitely, and provably, is my own … it was me who put it up on Wikipedia.

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