Tutor profile: Eric B.
What is a thesis statement, what role does it serve, and where should it be located in a well-written essay?
A thesis statement is a short statement—typically a single sentence—that clearly and concisely outlines an author’s main point or argument. It should provide an explicit answer to the author’s prompt or research question, depending on the type of essay, and it should serve as an anchor for the various arguments and pieces of evidence that the author presents in the body of the essay; this is because each individual body paragraph or section should clearly relate back to, and offer support for, the thesis statement. The thesis statement is often located at the end of the first paragraph, after the author has provided a hook and some basic background information on the topic at hand. It can also be restated or paraphrased in the essay’s conclusion, so as to remind readers of the overall point or argument in light of the evidence presented throughout the essay.
What is ethnography, and why is it important for cultural anthropologists?
Ethnography is a qualitative research methodology that relies on in-depth, field-based research with a given group or community. Ethnographers typically spent months or years living and working with their research participants, and conduct both detailed observations of their and their participants’ daily lives and activities, and extensive open-ended interviews with key participants. Cultural anthropologists frequently use ethnographic methods in their research, since their primary goal is to understand how different groups of people live, as well as the internal cognitive, cultural, and linguistic concepts and categories that they use to understand and communicate about the world around them. It is therefore necessary for anthropologists to spend extended periods of time observing, interviewing, and participating alongside the groups and communities that they are researching, to help ensure that they are not evaluating other cultures and lifeways on the basis of their own unconscious cultural values and frameworks.
What is the difference between absolute advantage and comparative advantage?
A nation has an absolute advantage in producing a particular good or service if it can produce more of that good or service than another nation can. It has a comparative advantage, meanwhile, if its opportunity cost of producing a particular good or service—i.e., the value of the next best alternative that it foregoes by producing that good or service—is lower than that of another nation. For example, if Brazil can produce 200 cars or 50 airplanes, and Paraguay can produce 50 cars or 25 airplanes, then Brazil has the absolute advantage in both industries, since it can produce more cars and airplanes than Paraguay can in absolute terms. However, Brazil must give up 4 cars for every airplane it produces (because 200/50 = 4), while Paraguay must only give up 2 cars for every airplane it produces (because 50/25 = 2), so Paraguay’s opportunity cost of producing airplanes is lower, and it therefore has a comparative advantage in the airplane industry.
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