How much existing literature about a culture is included in eHRAF?

We attempt to include as much information as we can about each culture, keeping in mind that the aim of our database is to compare and contrast cultural and social life. Since the emphasis is on comparison, it is not possible to include everything about every culture.

How much of the total ethnographic literature on a culture that we include is difficult to answer because the situation has changed over time. At the outset, the plan was to have a complete list of the world’s cultures – the Outline of World Cultures) which has about 2,000 described cultures – and include in the HRAF Collection of Ethnography (then available on paper) about ¼ of the world’s cultures. The available literature was much smaller then, so the million or so pages collected could have been about ¼ of the existing literature at that time. Since then, the number of described cultures has grown as well as the body of literature, and our aims have changed somewhat. We know we cannot include everything available about each culture, so we aim to include at least two comprehensive “ethnographic snapshots” (each of a particular time and place focus) based on extensive observation and interviewing. We supplement these larger ethnographic works with more specialized articles and/or chapters.


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