by Anna Mihalik

Main Points

New ethnography, closely related to cognitive anthropology and ethnoscience, is a method of ethnography that aims to understand how members of other cultures perceive and interact with their world through their own filter of cognition combined with any knowledge gained by enculturation. It is often focused in linguistic anthropology, taking into consideration how the knowledge and use of a particular language relates to an individual’s thought process and their implicit knowledge. The hope is to understand in what ways the development of an individual within a particular culture and the use of a certain language influences a person’s perception of and interaction with the world around them.

This is why many now consider a credible ethnographer to be one who has lived with the people of study for an extended period of time while also becoming fairly fluent in their native language. Living with the people and speaking their language gives the ethnographer a deeper, more accurate understanding of their culture and in addition opens to them a new way of understanding and experiencing the world around them. In doing so, the ethnographer moves from the etic, or outsider, to an emic, or insider, point of view.

Not only does learning the language of a culture give the ethnographer a greater understanding of semantics, but the language itself is deeply entwined with the culture in which it is used; so much so, that even the syntax and grammar are an accurate reflection of the culture and it’s particular nuances. The social behaviors expressed by members of a culture are also psychological in nature, as cognition of the individual is supposedly influenced by culture. Thus there is a combination of linguistic, cultural, and psychological anthropology that work together to gain a greater emic view of a studied culture when using new ethnography.


Key Figures

Ward H. Goodenough May 30, 1919 - June 9, 2013

Charles O. Frake

Conklin, Harold April 27, 1926 - Present.

Roy G. D'Andrade

Romney, K. A. August 15, 1925 - Present.

Bloch, Maurice 1939 - Present.

Key Texts

Cash, Jennifer. "Cognitive Anthropology." Socioculture Theory in Anthropology. May 1998. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.

Goodenough, Ward H. "In Pursuit Of Culture." Annual Review Of Anthropology 32.1 (2003): 1-12. EBSCOhost. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.

D'Andrade, Roy G. The Development of Cognitive Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Print.

Conklin, Harold C. and Frake, Charles O. "The Ethnographic Study of Cognitive Systems." Anthropology and Human Behavior (1962): 72-93. APA PsycNET. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.

Goodenough, Ward H. "Componential Analysis and The Study of Meaning." Language. 32.1 (1956): 195-216. JSTOR. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.

Shore, Bradd. Culture in Mind: Cognition, Culture, and the Problem of Meaning. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. Print.


"New Ethnography." Sociology Guide. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.

"Ethnoscience." Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc.. 11 Mar. 2015. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.

"Cognitive Anthropology." Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc.. 7 Aug. 2014. Web. 25 Feb. 2015

Goodenough, Ward H. "In Pursuit Of Culture." Annual Review Of Anthropology 32.1 (2003): 1-12. EBSCOhost. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.