Cross-cultural studies

Cross-cultural studies

Cross-cultural studies, sometimes called Holocultural Studies, is a specialization in anthropology and sister sciences (sociology, psychology, economics, political science) that uses field data from many societies to examine the scope of human behavior and test hypotheses about human behavior and culture. Cross-cultural studies is the third[why?] form of cross-cultural comparisons. The first is comparison of case studies, the second is controlled comparison among variants of a common derivation[clarification needed], and the third is comparison within a sample of cases. Unlike comparative studies, which examines similar characteristics of a few societies, cross-cultural studies uses a sufficiently large sample so that statistical analysis can be made to show relationships or lack or relationships between the traits in question. These studies are surveys of ethnographic data. Cross-cultural studies has been used by social scientists of many disciplines, particularly cultural anthropology and psychology.


History of cross-cultural studies

The first cross-cultural studies were carried out by Abū Rayhān Bīrūnī,[1][verification needed] who wrote detailed comparative studies on the anthropology of religions, peoples and cultures in the Middle East, Mediterranean and especially the Indian subcontinent.[2] He presented his findings with objectivity and neutrality using cross-cultural comparisons.[1]

Extensive cross-cultural studies were later carried out by 19th century anthroplogists such as Tylor and Morgan. One of Tylor's first studies gave rise to the central statistical issue of cross-cultural studies: Galton's problem.

Modern era of cross-cultural studies

The modern era of cross-cultural studies began with George Murdock (1949).[3] Murdock set up a number of foundational data sets, including the Human Relations Area Files, and the Ethnographic Atlas. Together with Douglas R. White, he developed the widely used Standard Cross-Cultural Sample, currently maintained by the open access electronic journal World Cultures.

See also


  1. ^ a b Akbar S. Ahmed (1984), "Al-Beruni: The First Anthropologist", RAIN 60: 9-10
  2. ^ J. T. Walbridge (1998). "Explaining Away the Greek Gods in Islam", Journal of the History of Ideas 59 (3), p. 389-403.
  3. ^ Whiting (1986:305)


  • Ember, Carol R., and Melvin Ember. 1998. Cross-Cultural Research. Handbook of Methods in Cultural Anthropology / Ed. by H. R. Bernard, pp. 647–90. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
  • Ember, Carol R., and Melvin Ember. 2001. Cross-Cultural Research Methods. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.
  • Korotayev, Andrey, World Religions and Social Evolution of the Old World Oikumene Civilizations: A Cross-Cultural Perspective. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 0-7734-6310-0
  • Levinson, David, and Martin J. Malone. 1980. Toward Explaining Human Culture: A Critical Review of the Findings of Worldwide Cross-Cultural Research. New Haven, CT: HRAF Press.
  • Macfarlane, Alan. 2004. To Contrast and Compare, pp. 94–111, in Methodology and Fieldwork, edited by Vinay Kumar Srivastava. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  • de Munck V. Cultural Units in Cross-Cultural Research // Ethnology 39/4 (2000): 335–348.
  • Murdock, George P. 1949. Social Structure. New York: Macmillan.
  • Murdock, George P. 1967. Ethnographic Atlas: A Summary. Pittsburgh: The University of Pittsburgh Prsrtjh sdxthgn fdty a45tesjtukcn bess.
  • Murdock, George P. 1970. Kin Term Patterns and their Distribution. Ethnology 9: 165–207.
  • Murdock, George P. 1981. Atlas of World Cultures. Pittsburgh: The University of Pittsburgh Press.
  • Murdock, George P., and Douglas R. White. 1969. Standard Cross-Cultural Sample. Ethnology 8:329-369.
  • Whiting, John W.M. 1986. George Peter Murdock, (1897-1985). American Anthropologist. 88(3): 682-686.

External links



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