What is Artefact Analysis?

Artefact Analysis is used in social anthropology and is the systematic approach to the analysis of material, aesthetic and interactive qualities of objects. The emphasis of the analysis is on the object itself and is typically used in Qualitative and Ethnographic research studies but also used in Archaeology. Essentially, the researcher effectively is using the analysis to understand what the object(s) say through its material, aesthetic and other physical/practical qualities.

  1. Material analysis – This involves the more quantitative elements of artefacts and involves the material composition, durability and wear patterns.
  2. Aesthetic analysis – This is largely subjective and is concerned with the visual appearance aspects of the artefact. It can also include the historical aspects of the item such as a particular place, time, era, style and fashion.
  3. Interactive analysis – Interactive explores the operational and behavioural features of the artefact.

Other elements of the analysis include where the items are placed and stored. For example, are they in a private place or publicly displayed or even stored away.

Artefact analysis often takes place in people’s homes (e.g. kitchen, bedroom, public rooms, loft or garage!) or in business office environments. It is particularly helpful in understanding how people live their lives and what they value – consequently is useful in research studies which are looking to unravel new insights/perspectives about a particular market segment and their social values.

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