Sir Edward Taylor gave one of the earliest definitions of anthropology as “A culture or a civilization is a complicated package which includes knowledge, ideas, beliefs, morals, values, style of living and any other capabilities acquired by a human being when he becomes a member of any society.”
Cultural Anthropology is supported by ethnography (Ethno meaning people graphy meaning writing). Whatever data is collected by anthropologists through observations, interviews, questionnaires; it is captured by “writing” it. This “writing” is very similar to the field studies or case reports which we make these days. These “writings” are used to describe the human societies, their cultures, their style of living, customs, languages, food, marriages etc.
Ethnography is the backbone of cultural anthropology. Without the written descriptions of civilizations and human societies, it would be impossible for the future generations to learn of a particular cultural/nation or society that existed in the past. There are various ways through which an anthropologist can collect data for ethnography. The most common and the easiest way to collect data is by observing the participants. Anthropologists often study different human societies by living with the participants and observing them.
Another common method often used by anthropologists is by interviewing the people of a society. Interviews can vary between small peep talks with the citizens or can involve long detailed conversation covering various topics.The third method is by asking the participants to fill in the questionnaires.