The second decision has been a bit trickier to deal with. As Robert Solow has remarked, that is like saying that as a perfectly aseptic environment is impossible, one might as well conduct surgery in a sewer. It is one, instructed by colleagues, students, and predecessors, I brought. Yet the the interpretation of cultures selected essays summary difference, however unphotographable, between a twitch and a wink is vast; as anyone unfortunate enough to have had the first taken for the second knows. A This, too, may seem a less than startling discovery, and to someone familiar with the current "liter3 Or, again, more exactly, "inscribes." Most ethnography is in fact to be found in books and articles, rather than in films, records. We are seeking, in the widened sense of the term in which it encompasses very much more than talk, to converse with them, a matter a great deal more difficult, and not only with strangers, than is commonly recognized. they study in villages. Our innocent-looking "note in a bottle" is more than a portrayal of the frames of meaning of Jewish peddlers, Berber warriors, and French proconsuls, or even of their mutual interference. It consists of mere accretions, distortions even, overlaying and obscuring what is truly human-the constant, the general, the universal-in man. As he points out, culture cannot be reduced to specific behavior patternscustoms, usages, traditions, habit clusters.
Thus, what is ostensibly a set of essays viii preface emerges, so I hope, somewhat as a treatise-a treatise in cultural theory as developed through a series of concrete analyses. Public" sort of cartoon. To take the giant step away from the uniformitarian view of human nature is, so far as the study of man is concerned, to leave the Garden. which accompanies it, is wholly misconceived. But the point here is not to describe what did or did not take place in Morocco. Nothing will discredit a semiotic approach to culture more quickly than allowing it to drift into a combination of intuitionism and alchemy, no matter how elegantly the intuitions are expressed or how modern the alchemy is made to look. Even if one does try to get down to less abstract levels and assert, as Kluckhohn did, that a concept of the afterlife is universal, or as Malinowski did, that a sense of Providence is universal, the same contradiction haunts one. But it no longer has the grandiose, all-promising scope, the infinite versatility of apparent application, it once had. The "natural laboratory" notion has been equally pernicious, not only because the analogy is false-what kind of a laboratory is it where none of the parameters are manipulable?-but because it leads to a notion that the data derived from ethnographic.
After we have become familiar with the new idea, however, after it has become part of our general stock of theoretical concepts, our expec. Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture 15 What it means is that descriptions of Berber, Jewish, or French culture must be cast in terms of the constructions we imagine Berbers, Jews, or Frenchmen to place upon. And there are other possibilities: the Marmushans might have regarded the French action as too great an insult to bear and gone into dissidence themselves; the French Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture 19 might have. The first is in the two essays of Part II on culture and biological evolution, where the fossil datings given in the original essays have been definitely superseded. In some, fifty or sixty people may fall, one after the other like a string of firecrackers going off as one observer puts it emerging anywhere from five minutes to several hours later, totally unaware of what they have been. The robbers were from a tribe which had not yet submitted to French authority and were in open rebellion against it, and he wanted authorization to go with his mezrag-holder, the Marmusha tribal sheikh, to collect the indemnity that. Theory of Culture 3, pART II, chapter 21 The Impact of the Concept of Culture on the Concept of Man Chapter 31 The Growth of Culture and the Evolution of Mind 33 55 part III Chapter 41 Religion. If localized, microscopic studies were really dependent for their greater relevance upon such a premise-that they captured the great world in the little-they wouldn't have any relevance. My point is that such generalizations are not to be discovered through a Baconian search for cultural universals, a kind of public-opinion polling of the world's peoples in search of a consensus gentium that does not in fact. II Attempts to locate man amid the body of his customs have taken several directions, adopted diverse tactics; but they have all, or virtually all, proceeded in terms of a single overall intellectual strategy: what. We are not, or at least I am not, seeking either to become natives (a compromised the interpretation of cultures selected essays summary word in any case) or to mimic them. Eclecticism is self-defeating not because there is only one direction in which it is useful to move, but because there are so many: it is necessary to choose.
Zo THE interpretation OF cultures ature an implausible one. To use a linguistic analogy, cultural patterns provide the grammar. Man was a hierarchically stratified animal, a sort of evolutionary deposit, in whose definition each level-organic, psychological, social, and cultural-had an assigned and incontestable place. In so doing, he turns it from a passing event, which exists only in its own moment of occurrence, into an account, which exists in its inscriptions and can be reconsulted. The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays is a 1973 book by American anthropologist, clifford Geertz. Murdock's elaboration of a set of "common-denominators of culture" during and since World War 11-added something new. When it does not do that, but leads us instead somewhere else-into an admiration of its own elegance, of its author's cleverness, or of the beauties of Euclidean order-it may have its intrinsic charms; but it is something. Perhaps, as its errors are more sophisticated and its distortions subtler, it is even more. VI So, there are three characteristics of ethnographic description: it is interpretive; what it is interpretive of is the flow of social discourse; and the interpreting involved consists in trying to rescue the "said" of such discourse from its. But we also have had, and more commonly, attempts to avoid them by seeking in culture patterns themselves the defining elements of a human existence which, although not constant in expression, are yet distinctive in character. The notion of a consensus gentium (a consensus of all mankind)-the notion that there are some things that all men will be found to agree upon as right, real, just, or attractive and that these things are, therefore. A repertoire of very general, made-in-the-academy concepts and systems of concepts-"integration "rationalization "symbol "ideology "ethos "revolution "identity "metaphor "structure "ritual the interpretation of cultures selected essays summary "world view "actor "function "sacred and, of course, "culture" itself-is woven into the body of thick-description ethnography in the hope of rendering. But when they saw who the "sheep thieves" were, they thought better of it and said, "all right, we'll talk." They couldn't really deny what had happened-that some of their men had robbed Cohen and killed the two visitors-and they.
Indeed, it is such extension of our analyses to wider contexts that, along with their theoretical implications, recommends them to general attention and justifies our constructing them. Theoretical ideas are not created wholly anew in each study; as I have said, they are adopted from other, related studies, and, refined in the process, applied to new interpretive problems. He confronts the same grand realities that othershistorians, economists, political scientists, sociologists-confront in more fateful settings: Power, Change, Faith, Oppression, Work, Passion, Authority, Beauty, Violence, Love, Prestige; but he confronts them in contexts obscure enough-places like Marmusha and lives like. Understanding a people's culture exposes their normalness without reducing their particularity. As the field advances one would hope that this sort of intellectual weed control would become a less prominent part of our activities. But what they, in my extended sense, "said" to one another on an Atlas plateau sixty years ago is-very far from perfectly-preserved for study. Kroeber aptly called "fake universals down to so seemingly tangible a matter as "shelter." That everywhere people mate and produce children, have some sense of mine and thine, and protect themselves in one fashion or another from. The famous studies purporting to show that the Oedipus complex was batkwards in the Trobriands, sex roles were upside down in Tchambuli, and the Pueblo Indians lacked aggression (it is characteristic that they were all negative-"but not in the South. Meaning-can be given the sort of sensible actuality that makes it possible to think not only realistically and concretely about them, but, what is more important, creatively and imaginatively with them. But it is an aim to which a semiotic concept of culture is peculiarly well adapted. He also writes with style, verve, learning, and intelligence." - Elizabeth Colson, Contemporary SociologyAbout the AuthorClifford Geertz, the author of many books, is Harold.
If they cease being useful with respect to such problems, they tend to stop being used and are more or less abandoned. Anthropological works based on other anthropological works (Levi-Strauss for example) may, of course, be fourth order or higher, and informants frequently, even habitually, make second order interpretations-what have come to be known as "native models." In literate cultures, where "native" interpretation. SBN: X, manufactured in the United States of America, contents vii, preface, pART I 4 Chapter 11 Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive. Because theories are seldom if ever decisively disproved in clinical use but merely grow increasingly awkward, unproductive, strained, or vacuous, they often persist long after all but a handful of people (though they are often most passionate) have lost much interest in them. (Traditionally, Jews were not allowed to carry weapons; but at this period things were so unsettled many did so anyway.) This attracted the attention of the French and the marauders fled. Geertz believed that the role of anthropologists was to try to interpret the guiding symbols of each culture. Anthropologists have not always been as aware as they might be of this fact: that although culture exists in the trading post, the hill fort, or the sheep run, anthropology exists in the book, the article, the lecture, the museum. As it is unseverable from the immediacies thick description presents, its freedom to shape itself in terms of its internal logic is rather limited. Start 48-Hour Free Trial to Unlock.
Having sought complexity and, on a scale grander than they ever imagined, found it, anthropologists became entangled in a tortuous effort to order. That is not, of course, its only aiminstruction, amusement, practical counsel, moral advance, and the discovery of natural order in human behavior are others; nor is anthropology the only discipline which pursues. The notion that men are men under whatever guise and against whatever backdrop has not been replaced by "other mores, other beasts." Yet, cast as it was, the Enlightenment concept of the nature of human nature had some much less. The besetting sin of interpretive approaches to anything-literature, dreams, symptoms, culture-is that they tend to resist, or to be permitted to resist, conceptual articulation and thus to escape systematic modes of assessment. This is a difference of no mean importance; indeed, precisely the one Madame Bovary had difficulty grasping. Right down at the factual base, the hard rock, insofar as there is any, of the whole enterprise, we are already explicating: and worse, explicating explications.
"Preface to Shakespeare Johnson on Shakespeare (London, 1931. Some Berbers, from yet another neighboring tribe, tried to break into Cohen's place, but he fired his rifle in the air. I have faced up to the first of these decisions by including in this collection only those of my essays which bear, directly and explicitly, on the concept of culture. Kroeber,., Anthropology Today (Chicago, 1953. The major theoretical contributions not only lie in specific studies-that is true in almost any field-but they are very difficult to abstract from such studies and integrate into anything one might call.culture theory" as such. If they continue being useful, throwing up new understandings, they are further elaborated and go on being used. Tylor's famous "most complex whole which, its originative power not denied, seems to me to have reached the point where it obscures a good deal more than it reveals. One did not have to assert that man's culture was all there was to him in order to claim that it was, nonetheless, an essential and irreducible, even a paramount ingredient in his nature. In essence, this is not altogether a new idea.
The great natural variation of cultural forms is, of course, not only anthropology's great (and wasting) resource, but the ground of its deepest theoretical dilemma: how is such variation to be squared with the biological unity of the human species? 1 Not only other peoples anthropology can be trained on the culture of which it the interpretation of cultures selected essays summary is itself a part, and it increasingly is; a fact of profound importance, but which, as it raises a few tricky and rather. It is explication I am after, construing social expressions on their surface enigmatical. But it is not to be resolved by regarding a remote locality as the world in a teacup or as the sociological equivalent of a cloud chamber. 4 This is not as fatal as it sounds, for, in fact, not all Cretans are liars, and it is not necessary to know everything in order to understand something. You can help by adding. In the face of this sort of theoretical diffusion, even a somewhat constricted and not entirely standard concept of culture, which is at least internally coherent and, more important, which has a definable argument to make is (as,. The thing to ask is what their import is: what it is, ridicule or challenge, irony or anger, snobbery or pride, that, in their occurrence and through their agency, is getting said. He then went to the Colonel in the town, the Frenchman in charge of the whole region, to complain. Contracting your eyelids on purpose when there exists a public code in which so doing counts as a conspiratorial signal is winking. So the two groups talked, and talked, and talked, there on the plain amid the thousands of sheep.