A term from ethnography
, referring to an approach that emphasizes the cross-cultural
and somewhat scientific
approach of the anthropologist
to the cultural data they are gathering. The etic approach tends to emphasize the importance of objectivity
and the viewpoint of the observing scientist rather than the people being observed. Members of a culture
are considered too bias
ed to accurately describe a culture, while the scientifically trained anthropologist is expected to have a minimum of cultural bias
. Etics often emphasize comparisons between cultures.
The term can also be used, often in direct opposition to emic, to distiguish between a culture's perspective and the modern scientific perspective. For example, a explanation of colds as the result of the night air would be emic; the etic explanation is that they are caused by viruses.
The terms were popularized by anthropologist Marvin Harris (1968) and are back-formations from the linguistic terms phonetic and phonemic.