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(ĕthnŏl`əjē), scientific study of the origin and functioning of human cultures. It is usually considered one of the major branches of cultural anthropologyanthropology,
classification and analysis of humans and their society, descriptively, culturally, historically, and physically. Its unique contribution to studying the bonds of human social relations has been the distinctive concept of culture.
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, the other two being anthropological archaeology and anthropological linguistics. In the 19th cent. ethnology was historically oriented and offered explanations for extant cultures, languages, and races in terms of diffusion, migration, and other historical processes. In the 20th and 21st cent. ethnology has focused on the comparative study of past and contemporary cultures. Since cultural phenomena can seldom be studied under conditions of experiment or control, comparative data from the total range of human behavior helps the ethnologist to avoid those assumptions about human nature that may be implicit in the dictates of any single culture.


See R. H. Lowie, The History of Ethnological Theory (1938); E. A. Hoebel, Man in the Primitive World (1949, 2d ed. 1958); M. Mead, People and Places (1959); B. Schwartz, Culture and Society (1968); C. Geertz, The Interpretation of Culture (1973); E. Hatch, Theories of Man and Culture (1973).

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the comparative historical study of peoples and cultures within their environments.

In the USA and parts of Europe ‘ethnology’ has sometimes served as an all-encompassing concept for human studies, including various mixes of archaeology, study of material culture, linguistics, sociology together with social, cultural, and physical anthropology, which may also include sociology as a sub-part.

There has been resistance to such an overarching view. British social anthropology for example, has usually distanced itself from the all-encompassing ‘grand’ historical view implied by the ethnological enterprise. RADCLIFFE-BROWN and others advocated ethnographic studies of the social organization of peoples in the ‘here and now’ as a methodological departure from ethnologies, and historicism, although retaining a concern for comparative study.

In contrast, American cultural anthropology, following the lead of BOAS and of Kroeber (Anthropology: Race, Language, Culture, Psychology, 1923) has championed the ambitious all-encompassing broad sweep of ethnological enquiry alongside ethnographic studies, as nothing less than the classification and taxonomization of the ‘total’ history of humankind in all its physical, material and cultural manifestations.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000


The science that deals with the study of the origin, distribution, and relations of races or ethnic groups of humankind.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


the branch of anthropology that deals with races and peoples, their relations to one another, their origins, and their distinctive characteristics
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
"Writers and Their Subjects: Ethnologic and Chinese Composition." A Rhetoric of Doing: Essays on Written Discourse in Honor of James L.
His ethnologic intuition told him that he was hearing hybrid Afro-American music, but he was still unc ertain about how to make sense of its ambiguous nature.
The title, which means "Teha'amana has a lot of relatives" (Danielsson 143), lends it an ethnologic significance and initiates a kind of dialogue with the image: as the primitive woman Teha'amana, this painting, which tells the very essence of the primitive in modernity, has also a lot of kins.
5) the statistic approach is not a sure guide in ethnologic research, although Boas did use it in his study of mythology, as the first after Edward B.
'There is no doubt', opined one American official, 'that if careful ethnologic work had been undertaken and carried on among the Indians in the early days of the Republic many mistakes which have been made might have been avoided.' (27) Hence, whatever missteps or indiscretions that may have been committed in the United States' continental imperial past could now be rectified and even atoned for in the Philippines through the precision of scientific inquiry.
In the main, Indians continued to be viewed as a distinctive ethnologic cohort with unique rights with regard to their treatment and potential enslavement well into the seventeenth century.
In 1898 organizers of the Omaha Trans-Mississippi Exposition included what they called an "ethnologic exhibit" or an "Indian Congress" on several acres of the fairgrounds.
Later in the chapter, Perna speculates extensively on the etymology of timba, referencing Jorge Castellanos and Isabel Castellanos ("The Geographic, Ethnologic, and Linguistic Roots of Cuban Blacks," Cuban Studies 17 [1987]: 95-110); Fernando Ortiz (Los Instrumentos de la musica afrocubana.
Father Leopold Osterman, founder of the Chinle Mission, worked with Father Berard Haile to complete The Ethnologic Dictionary of the Navaho Language.(24) The dictionary contained definitions of words, classification of concepts, and descriptions of Navajo culture.
One can elicit the kind of derogatory statements about Comanche religious behavior that Curtis reported from Kiowa or Wichita people today; they are artifacts of ethnocentrism and intertribal relations, not independent facts for basing ethnologic determinations.