From Theory to Method and Back Again

Edited by Michael W. Coy

Subjects: Anthropology Of Work
Series: SUNY series in the Anthropology of Work
Paperback : 9780791400616, 310 pages, October 1989
Hardcover : 9780791400609, 310 pages, October 1989

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Table of contents


Michael Coy

Part I: From Theory

1. Japanese Folkcraft Pottery Apprenticeship: Cultural Patterns of an Educational Institution
John Singleton

2. Apprenticeship and Transmission of Knowledge in La Paz, Bolivia
Hans Buechler

3. Informal Aspects of Apprenticeship in Selected American Occupations
Bennie Graves

4. The Railroad Apprenticeship and the 'Rules': Historic Roots and Contemporary Practices
Frederick Gamst

5. The Process of Apprenticeship: Ritual Ordeal and the Adoption of a Cloak of Competence
Jack Haas

Part II: To Method

6. Being What We Pretend to Be: The Usefulness of Apprenticeship as a Field Method
Michael Coy

7. Apprenticeship as Field Method: Lessons from Hong Kong
Eugene Cooper

8. To Weave or Not to Weave: Apprenticeship Rules among the Akwete Igbo of Nigeria and the Baule of the Ivory Coast
Lisa Aronson

9. Hausa Weaving: Surviving Amid the Paradoxes
Linda Deafenbaugh

10. Secrets and Skills: Apprenticeship among Tukolor Weavers
R. M. Dilley

11. Apprentice Shaman
James Dow

12. Japanese Temple Gardens and the Apprentice Training of Priests
Norris Brock Johnson

13. Learning, Apprenticeship and the Division of Labor
Esther N. Goody

Author Index
Subject Index


This book examines the phenomenon of apprenticeship by exploring it as a social, economic, and educational institution. Studies of apprenticeship in both craft occupations and supernatural specializations in Africa, Latin America, North America, and Asia are offered. The authors also look at apprenticeship as a method in anthropological field research. Many of the contributors have apprenticed themselves in other-cultural settings, providing a unique marriage of subject and method in cross-cultural research. Esther N. Goody provides a summary look at learning, apprenticeship and the division of labor.

Michael W. Coy is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at St. Mary's College of Maryland.


"This is an innovative, exciting book. I know of no other in the anthropological literature which takes a methodology as its focus, explores the nuances of its application, and discusses the theoretical implications of that application. This is even more striking since the method in question, apprenticeship, is necessarily a qualitative and individual endeavor. " — Charles M. Keller, University of Illinois

"It opens up systematic research and analysis on a new and important topic within anthropology. Apprenticeship has a superficial literature in certain other fields (history, education), but in anthropology it has received only scattered attention until now. With this major volume, the new area will be established as a subfield for continuing and more sophisticated study. The book shows that interesting empirical studies can be done of specific apprenticeship systems. " — John D. Herzog, Northeastern University