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The Comprehensive Analysis of a Society and its People

Benedict is sorry that she cannot use the field trip to add to her knowledge:

I could not go to Japan and live in their homes and watch the strains and stresses of daily life, see with my own eyes which were crucial and which were not. I could not watch them in the complicated business of arriving at a decision. I could not see their children being brought up (Benedict, 1989, 5-6).

However, she does note that there were other anthropological techniques that she could use. The chance to interview Japanese people in the United States supported the anthropologist's desire to have face-to-face contact with the people being studied. Works by Japanese authors and researchers were also examined, though Benedict is aware of the limitations that might be embodied in such efforts:

Of course they did not present the whole picture. No people does. A Japanese who writes about Japan passes over really crucial thing which are as familiar to him and as invisible as the air he breathes. So do Americans when they write about America (Benedict, 1989, 7).

Benedict also watched movies written and produced in Japan, including all sorts of movies--propaganda films, historical movies, and movies of contemporary life i Tokyo and in the farm villages. Her method seems comprehensive given what she could not do, which was to go to Japan, and she even watched films with Japanese who had seen some of the movies in Japan and who might have a different view of the characters than would she.

The approach taken by Benedict was popular in the 1940s and 1950s as outsiders would look at a society and study the national character of a people. Of necessity, she is kept at a greater distance from Japanese society than would have been common even then, but since she states this openly up front, her book serves the reader who keeps it in mind. Her book includes a good deal of the historical development of various social institutions and ideas, and clearly s...

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The Comprehensive Analysis of a Society and its People. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 18:03, August 18, 2017, from
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