The Interpretive Turn

Clifford Geertz is very well known in the area of interpretive/symbolic anthropology.

Geertz has many quotes linked to him. This is likely his most quoted:

“Believing, with Max Weber, that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun,”….“I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretative one in search of meaning. It is explication I am after, construing social expression on their surface enigmatical.”

Also, Geertz’ two most read/cited articles are the following:

-Clifford Geertz, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” (1973) 

-Clifford Geertz, Thick Description: Towards a Theory of Culture (1973) 

Symbolic/Interpretive Anthropology always seems to find its way into current discussions of anthropology.  Is it a post-modern thing?  The following classics, are great illustrations on the genre.

-Mary Douglas, External Boundaries (1966)

-Victor Turner, Symbols in Ndembu Ritual (1967)

See more here


Is anthropology:
an experimental science in search of law
an interpretative “science” in search of meaning?

Laura & Selena pose the following:
Q1: Geertz says at one point that the function of the cockfight is interpretive… Would this also make him a functionalist? Why or why not?
Q2: And what does he mean when he writes:
“For it only apparently cocks that are fighting there. Actually, it is men.”
Why was it that cock fights were so important to his study of the Balinese culture?
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