Overview of the Paradigms and Current Research 13
Anthropology deals with the production and utilization of knowledge pertinent to human cultural and social action within the confines of specific historical and environmental situations and cross-cultural interactions. One area in which it excels, however, has to do with understanding and interpreting cultural diversity in the communal setting and the interaction and sometimes conflict between intercultural and/or inter-population conflict.
Environmental anthropology (formerly known as cultural ecology) and alternatively referred to as ecological anthropology, represents a relatively new subset of applied anthropology and deals most with assisting government and private enterprises with environmental policy development and associated environmental program planning. As such, it represents and amalgamation of various environmental topical areas heretofore contained within the realm of general anthropology.
Those individuals working in the area of environmental anthropology must, by necessity, rely on their knowledge of ecology and efficient social research methodology in order to properly assess and interpret the relationship between a community, its environment, and the consequentiality of changes to this relationship. The tools of the environmental anthropologist include participant observation, surveys, interviews, social and environmental assessment techniques, and a host of other methods all utilized to determine the social, political, cultural, and environmental dynamics associated with a community. Applying these tools to a typical sample of population, the environmental anthropologist is very often able to identify the possible consequences (or set of consequences) that may result from a specific company and/or governmental program. Recommendations are made that deal with what could be done to improve the policy and hence the reception of said policy by the commu...