Emic-Etic Distinction

The emic-etic distinction pertains to the different procedures and viewpoints in conducting field research. The stand of emic is internal as it is from the perspective of the subject or social group being studied while that of etic is external as it is from the observer or outsider.

For instance, the etic approach is used when a researcher from America goes to Japan and observes a particular community; hence, he does not alter the culture. On the other hand, emic approach is employed when the researcher immerses himself in that society’s culture and gains a deeper access to their private rituals. The disadvantage of the etic approach is the risk of lower validity due to the subjects’ less genuine behavior as influenced by the feeling of “being observed”. As for the emic approach, there is a risk that the researcher’s objectivity may be lessened as a result of his interaction with the subjects.

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