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SIL Electronic Working Papers 2010-004

The end of worldview in anthropology?

Author  Beine, Dave K.

Is the concept of worldview dead in contemporary anthropology? During a recent discussion on an anthropology listserve, a “firestorm” was created by the use of the term “worldview.” The majority of respondents opined that they no longer considered worldview a valuable analytic construct within anthropology. So, has worldview analysis been largely abandoned within contemporary anthropology? This spirited banter prompted a simple research project to assess how prevalent the worldview concept and usage of the term is held within wider anthropology circles. The project was conducted— using a ten year and ten pages deep anthropology-filtered Google search—to see if the term is still being used and by whom.

This paper discusses preliminary findings; and an initial analysis suggests that far from what has been suggested, “worldview” remains in strong usage within contemporary anthropology. A second interesting finding is that remaining theoretical interest in the topic appears most particularly within a unique subset of anthropological specialties (e.g. cognitive anthropology, medical anthropology, psychological anthropology and linguistic anthropology) that typically characterize the newly emerging paradigm of the anthropological sciences.

  The end of worldview in anthropology?
Published  2010
Subject  Anthropology
Keywords  worldview; anthropology; Anthropology