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To Contrast and Compare

  • Author(s): Macfarlane, Alan
  • et al.

Necessity, purpose, distancing the over-familiar, familiarizing the distant, making absences visible, and testing answers provide a framework for considering comparison in sociocultural anthropology. The methods reviewed include intrasocietal, dyadic, triadic, controlled, and broad comparison; units of comparison, necessary precautions about what is comparable; the operations of comparison and contrast and their respective productivity; differences, similarities and concomitance; polarity and dimensionality of comparison; comparison of norms, of behaviors, of processes; comparisons in time and issues of comparison in historical time; dynamics and models.

The paper concludes with a short history of methods of contrast and comparison.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________ Reprinted with permission of the author from Methodology and Fieldwork, pp. 94-111, 2004, edited by Vinay Kumar Srivastava. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

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