Anthropology, as a subject can be very difficult to quantify. So, there are different approaches which can be followed to understand the demographics and draw inferences on societies. There are several tools which can be deployed to arrive at conclusions and these can be either based on numerical analysis or quantitative techniques or qualitative techniques such as focus group discussions or dialogue. Each of the approaches has their own pros and cons. However, the best approach is always a prudent mix of both the approaches. Some of the popular quantitative approaches are (L3:S6):
Cross Sectional Research: These are generally sample surveys on a certain set of population. However, repeated use of this type of research can help in garnering a useful trend of certain characteristics.
Controlled field studies/Quasi-experiments: These experiments are done generally in a pre-set environment suitable for generating answers to very specific questions. These are carried across in controlled settings. Thus it is important to select the sample for study and the understanding of independent and the dependent variables.
Some of the common qualitative techniques on the other side involve:
Case studies: This methodology can be used for ethnographic and non-ethnographic groups. However, this uses only a specific unit for further investigation and analysis
Narratives: This technique includes weaving stories and snippets from which information can be extracted and used for analysis of a certain characteristic of a society
Compressed ethnographic research designs: This methodology uses focus group interviews or focus group discussions to arrive at a plausible conclusion on certain problems of the society.
Participatory Action Research: This refers to working with the whole community to identify and fix problems.
Apart from the conventional approaches mentioned above, even art and poetry can be considered as windows to the issues with a certain society. However, in all these techniques and methodologies, we need to first ask ourselves the end goal or the output of the research. Only then, we would be well-equipped to create a proper framework for us to obtain answers from data analysis.