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The Ethnographically Informed Community & Cultural Assessments Research Systems (the EICCARS) is one of four program subsystems of the Cultural Ecology of Health and Change (the CEHC), an anthropologically informed applied research and technical assistance system that focuses on the planning, implementation, and evaluation of communities and other “cultural systems”.  Within the EICCARS the study of cultural system not only to local communities, but also any group or social system in which its members tend to share preferences for particular behaviors, ideas, and social relationships, including organizations and institutions, ethnic groups, household and family, friend and kin(ship) networks and systems,  and even total societies. The EICCARS is ”   a multi-method research system that  has emerged during CuSAG’s founding director, Dr. Tony Whitehead’s nearly 40 year career as a community health anthropologist. Included in CuSAG’s toolkit of applied ethnographic methods are the following: 

  1. A Variety of Observation and Participant Observation Methods customized for the study of different forms of cultural systems (e.g., community, organizations, and household, family, and kinship systems, etc.) and social settings (e.g., meetings, street corners, night clubs) and events (festive occasions, reunions, etc.); 
  2. A Variety of Interview Methods, both individual (informal, conversational, ethno-semantic, and semi-structured) and group (including focus groups);
  3. Methods for the Study of Significant Events and Processes of those systems being researched;
  4. The Use of Mapping Technologies, such as Geographic Information Systems, to study the spatial distributions of various objects of interest within cultural systems, and the perceptions of the members of those systems regarding such distributions.
  5. The Use of Audio (Taping) and Visual (Photography, film, etc) for recording cultural systems data.
  6. Cultural Systems (e.g., community, ethnic group, organizational) Specific Secondary Data Analysis including website and other databases, project reports and other types of documents, archival data, and more popular data sources such fiction and non-fiction print texts (e.g. newspapers, books, blogs and other electronic sources), existing maps and other formats showing the spatial distribution of objects within a cultural system, as well as existing audio-visual records.
  7. Strategies for training members of the cultural systems (communities, organizations, etc) being studied in EICCARS methods so that they can out EICCARS studies to inform their own or their systems’ future project ideas.
  8. Methods for Designing Comprehensive or Holistic Approaches to the Exploration of Cultural Systems;
  9. Methods of Team Approaches to Ethnography including technically trained persons from outside of the system that is the focus of research (Cultural Outsiders) and members of that system (Cultural Insiders);
  10. Computerized data storage and retrieval systems for each of the systems that is being researched;
  11. Methods for the Development of Data Collection/Recording Instruments and Other Materials in the Use of all the methods outlined above.


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Working Papers

Introduction to Ethnographically Informed Community and Cultural Assessment Research Systems (the EICCARS)

Program Training Manuals and Workbooks

Guide for Recording Community Characteristics and Resources



EICCARS Running Data Documents for CuSAG Study Neighborhoods.

Links to Related Websites



CuSAG: The Cultural Systems Analysis Group
Department of Anthropology  |  University of Maryland
0123 Woods Hall  |  College Park, MD 20742 USA
tel. 301-405-1419  | www.cusag.umd.edu
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Last updated 08/07/2012
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