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Applied Folklore

Applied folklore, a subset of cultural anthropology, addresses the role and function of traditional knowledge in contemporary societies. By integrating the practical application of folklore, this discipline promotes cultural sustainability, fosters local identity, and encourages social development [1].

Conceptualizing Applied Folklore

The study of folklore goes beyond the realm of myths, legends, and folktales. In essence, it provides insight into people’s worldviews and cultural traditions [2].

  1. Traditional Knowledge: It consists of customs, practices, stories, music, and arts that are passed down from generation to generation.
  2. Folk Groups: A group of people who share some commonality, such as nationality, ethnicity, profession, or common experience.

Methodology in Applied Folklore

The following key methods underpin the discipline:

1. Fieldwork

This is an essential aspect of folklore studies. Folklorists visit local communities to collect, analyze, and record traditional knowledge.

2. Ethnography

The scientific study of human cultures, ethnography, gives an account of a particular community, society, or culture based on first-hand observation.

3. Oral History

This involves collecting historical information through recorded interviews. Folklorists value oral history as it highlights the personal narratives that contribute to collective memories.

Practical Application of Applied Folklore

Applied folklore offers several applications, including:

1. Cultural Preservation

Applied folklore plays a pivotal role in preserving cultural heritage, particularly among indigenous communities [3]. It involves:

  • Documenting traditional knowledge, practices, and beliefs
  • Facilitating transmission of these elements to younger generations
  • Empowering communities to value and sustain their cultural traditions

2. Education

Applied folklore enhances education by incorporating folk knowledge into curriculum. This strategy respects cultural diversity, promotes cross-cultural understanding, and fosters global citizenship [4].

3. Healthcare

In healthcare, applied folklore aids in understanding patients’ beliefs about illness and healing, thereby improving communication and treatment outcomes.

UsesSpecific Examples
Cultural PreservationTraditional farming practices, Indigenous languages
EducationFolk literature in curriculum, Traditional games
HealthcareHerbal medicines, Traditional healing practices

Challenges and Opportunities in Applied Folklore

Applied folklore, though rewarding, faces several challenges:

  1. Rapid Globalization: The risk of losing traditional knowledge due to rapid modernization and globalization.
  2. Intellectual Property Rights: The misuse or misappropriation of folklore by outsiders, especially in the commercial sector.

Yet, it also presents significant opportunities:

  1. Cultural Revitalization: Reviving endangered cultural elements and revitalizing cultural identity.
  2. Promoting Inclusivity: Encouraging inclusivity and cultural diversity by recognizing and validating the experiences and traditions of all folk groups.


Applied folklore offers a unique approach to understanding and sustaining cultural traditions. By incorporating folklore into practical applications, communities can better appreciate their heritage, promote cultural diversity, and foster sustainable development.


[1] Dorst, J.D. (2016). The Written Substrate: Fieldwork, Notes, and the Discovery of Interpretation. Western Folklore, 75(2), pp. 109-137.

[2] Bendix, R., & Hasan-Rokem, G. (2012). Rethinking Folklore: A Necessary Step towards Interdisciplinary Dialogue. Folklore Studies, 1(1), pp. 5-26.

[3] Clifford, J., & Marcus, G.E. (Eds.). (1986). Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. University of California Press.

[4] Lindahl, C. (2002). Folklore and Education: Formulating Methodologies. Journal of American Folklore, 115(455), pp. 257-271.

Anthropologist Vasundhra - Author and Anthroholic

Vasundhra, an anthropologist, embarks on a captivating journey to decode the enigmatic tapestry of human society. Fueled by an insatiable curiosity, she unravels the intricacies of social phenomena, immersing herself in the lived experiences of diverse cultures. Armed with an unwavering passion for understanding the very essence of our existence, Vasundhra fearlessly navigates the labyrinth of genetic and social complexities that shape our collective identity. Her recent publication unveils the story of the Ancient DNA field, illuminating the pervasive global North-South divide. With an irresistible blend of eloquence and scientific rigor, Vasundhra effortlessly captivates audiences, transporting them to the frontiers of anthropological exploration.

Articles: 268

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