Anthropology and the Public Interest

Anthropology and the Public Interest: Fieldwork and Theory. 1976. New York: Academic Press.

From the Introduction

The purpose of this book is to offer an intellectual perspective that might be useful to those students and professionals who wish to expand their knowledge so that they can operate effectively outside of academe. Working in a nonacademic setting does not mean that the academic commitment to the advancement of knowledge is rejected or neglected. On the contrary, intelligent and effective social action both requires and stimulates an ever expanding base of understanding and knowledge. Those presently operating in the arena where power is negotiated and public goods and services allocated — lawyers, legislators, and school officials — will find in this book rigorous empirical and theoretical studies of the range of cultural variation in the United States, its historical dimensions, and its effect on behavior, particularly behavior leading to inclusion or exclusion of various segments of our pluralistic society in the public domain of political and economic power.One of the several commitments determining the perspective to be developed here is to an anthropology that serves the needs of both science and society. This requires formulating research problems that can be conducted sequentially or simultaneously at the basic and applied research levels. I would define basic research as contributing to knowledge, theory, and method–and hence to the advancement of social science. At this level, one is not necessarily concerned with the isolation of variables that can be manipulated by intervention strategies but with the understanding of all the factors contributing in some significant way to the phenomena under study. In addition, one also would be interested in developing theory and method that result in the most parsimonious descriptive statement of cause-and-effect relationships. The applied research level would be concerned with the isolation of variables that can be manipulated by public policy and with the identification of the point at which the cost of changing inputs outweighs the expected benefits. The choice of these variables — the intervention strategies — is based on underlying notions of how things are and how they should be. As many of the chapters in this book suggest, these notions are more often than not based on a narrow understanding of the American society and culture. Commitment to the democratic ideology demands knowledge of the full range of American sociocultural processes and how these processes — albeit, inadvertently as with a life of their own — may work for or against an egalitarian ideology [xvi-xvii].

Chapters by:

Anthony F.C. Wallace: “Some Reflections on the Contributions of Anthropologists to Public Policy.”

Ward H. Goodenough: “Intercultural Expertise and Public Policy.”

Charles R. McGimsey III: “The Past, the Present, the Future: Public Policy as a Dynamic Interface.”

E.A. Hammel: “Training Anthropologists for Effective Roles in Public Policy.

“Winthrop D. Jordan: “A Sense of Success: Heredity, Intelligence, and Race in American History and Culture.”

Peggy Reeves Sanday:”Cultural and Structural Pluralism in the United States.”

Anthony E. Boardman, Otto A. Davis, and Peggy Reeves Sanday: “The Cultural Context of American Education.”

Evelyn Jacob and Peggy Reeves Sanday:”Dropping Out: A Strategy for Coping with Cultural Pluralism.”

Frederick Erickson:”Gatekeeping Encounters: A Social Selection Process.”

Lucy Garretson: “The ERA:Law, Custom, and Change.”

John R. Lombardi and Carol B. Stack:”Economically Cooperating Units in an Urban Black Community.”

Henry A. Selby and Gary G. Hendrix: “Policy Planning and Poverty: Notes on a Mexican Case.”

Patricia Lee Engle: “The Language Debate:Education in First or Second Language.”

John J. Gumperz: “Language, Communication, and Public Negotiation.”

Lilyan A. Brudner, Douglas R. White, and Anthony S. Walters: “National Policy Programming: A Prototype Model from Language Planning.”

Other articles by: Marcus Alexis, William D. Morris, Otto A. Davis and Margaret A. Frederking, Roxann A. Van Dusen and Robert Parke.