From the origins of humanity, our species has eagerly pursued knowledge, trying to catalog and define it through clear and well differentiable concepts. In ancient Greece, scholars decided to establish a concept that would encompass knowledge, science.
It is necessary to clarify beforehand that it is called knowledge to a set of information acquired through experience or introspection and that can be organized on a structure of objective facts accessible to different observers. It is called science to that set of techniques and methods that are used to achieve such knowledge. The word comes from Latin scientia and, precisely, it means knowledge.
The systematic application of these methods generates new objective knowledge (scientists), which acquire a specific form. First a prediction is made which is tested through the scientific method and subjected to quantification. On the other hand, these predictions of science can be placed within a structure thanks to the detection of universal rules , which allow to describe how a system works. These same universal laws are what make it possible to know in advance how the system in question will act under certain circumstances.
Science can be divided into basic science and applied science (when scientific knowledge is applied to human needs). There are also other classifications of science, such as those raised by the German epistemologist Rudolf Carnap who divided them into formal sciences (they have no concrete content, such as logic and mathematics), natural Sciences (Its object of study is nature. Example: biology, chemistry, geology) and social Sciences (They deal with aspects of culture and society, such as history, economics and psychology).
Although each science has its characteristic research modality, scientific methods must meet several requirements, such as reproducibility (the ability to repeat an experiment anywhere and by anyone) and falsifiability (A theory must be able to be placed against tests that contradict it).
The steps of the scientific process are the observation (a sample is taken), the detailed description , the induction (when the implied general principle of the observed results is extracted), the hypothesis (which explains the results and their cause-effect relationship), the controlled experimentation (to check the hypothesis), the demonstration or refutation of the hypothesis and, finally, the universal comparison (to contrast the hypothesis with reality).
In the social Sciences , where the pragmatic value lies in the understanding of our species, some requirements of this method cannot be applied. It should be clarified that one of the fundamental objectives of social sciences exists is to gain a greater understanding of the human being, as an individual and as a social being.
Therefore, in order to carry out an in-depth study of human behavior, it was necessary to create different scientific spaces where to work independently on each topic, in this way the psychology , anthropology , the economy and the sociology , which study the behavior within a cultural context. It is about making an impartial observation and gathering data that helps to understand the matter and draw conclusions as objective as possible.
An important difference that needs to be mentioned is that between the exact sciences and the human sciences, in the first ones every time you want to repeat an event to perform your check it can be done through the hypothetical-deductive method , however, in human sciences it is impossible to repeat the phenomena, because the elements that interfere are social and temporal and can never happen identically. This led to the social sciences developing a diverse method that is the qualitative method , in which data from an environment are collected and compared with others taken in another circumstance or in another environment, to reach an accurate conclusion of social and cultural statistics of a people or group of individuals.
In anthropology one of the scientists who managed to establish a study method was Bronislaw Malinowski who devised the method of participant observation, through which he managed to understand the way in which the primitive peoples of the islands found in northern Australia lived. This method applied to a community of native settlers could be summarized in the following steps:
* Choose an indigenous community.
* Gather as much information about it.
* Document yourself deeply about her.
* Make hypotheses about the life of these settlers.
* Learn to communicate in your language.
* Organize the work in a theoretical-practical structure to carry out the research.
* Analyze everyday aspects and social acts (relationships, economic activities, etc.) with equal detail.
* Establish differences between what we have observed and the interpretation of it.
According to Herskovits to make an anthropological analysis it is necessary to observe as much as we can, participate in what the settlers allow us and discuss our hypotheses and experiences with all the natives we can. Thus we would be putting Malinowski's method of observation into practice.
In addition there are other methods that can help to understand the social facts and behavior of a people, such as the structural method and specific methodologies according to each branch of science.
Finally, it only remains to clarify that science is the methodology that allows to approach knowledge through the performance of a certain number of steps. The set of these steps is called method and, according to the type of knowledge that you want to reach, it will be necessary to use one or another method, as appropriate.