In her preface, Hatcher establishes the purpose of the book as "primarily to help provide a way for formulating questions concerning whatever aspect of the subject [art objects] is of interest, at whatever level the reader wishes to pursue it" (xi). In order to assist the reader in this endeavor, she seeks to simply the multiplicity of theories surrounding the anthropological study of art and culture. Hatcher rejects the idea of finding a single model to explain art in all societies, if that model is built upon only one viewpoint or way of looking at culture. Rather,
one can perceive many theories and models as belonging to different categories, rather than as competing explanations... When various levels, aspects and viewpoints are sorted out in very basic terms, relationships between these different perceptions can emerge... Until the basic similarities are laid bare, the subtleties between different formulations of similar concepts make for confusion, misunderstanding, and unproductive controversy (xiv).