A term from ethnography, referring to an approach that emphasizes the personal, local-oriented, and internal nature of the data the anthropologist is gathering. The emic approach tends to emphasize personal interviews and cultural consultants, and be descriptive rather than very analytic. A culture's biases and values are considered as important as the scientific data. Generally bias is considered inevitable, and the culture's bias preferred to the scientist's.

The term can also be used, often in direct opposition to etic, to distiguish between a culture's perspective and an archetypal or crosscultural perspective. For example, a description of American Thanksgiving as a commemoration of the early European settlements in America would be emic; calling it a typical autumn harvest festival would be etic.

The terms were popularized by anthropologist Marvin Harris (1968) and are back-formations from the linguistic terms phonetic and phonemic.