symbolic anthropology


  • [3] The two different schools of perspective on symbolic anthropology also have their roots in different cultures, the work of Victor Turner traditionally being recognized
    as the British way of thought, while the work of Clifford Geertz is viewed as the American way.

  • Some dismiss the connection between these two fields, believing that symbolic anthropology cannot be condensed down into psychology in any way, or that culture alone determines
    behavior, disregarding the role the individual psyche plays in collective traits expressed through thick description.

  • Symbolic anthropology follows a literary basis instead of an empirical one meaning there is less of a concern with objects of science such as mathematics or logic, instead
    of focusing on tools like psychology and literature.

  • Symbolic anthropology aims to thoroughly understand the way meanings are assigned by individuals to certain things, leading then to a cultural expression.

  • [citation needed] Different perspectives Clifford Geertz’s interpretive approach asserts that humans are in need of symbolic “sources of illumination” to orient themselves
    to the system of meaning in a particular culture.

  • By this what is conveyed, is that since culture and behavior can only be studied as a unit, studying culture and its smaller sections of the structure, thick description is
    what details the interpretation of those belonging to a certain culture.

  • According to Clifford Geertz, “[b]elieving, 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 interpretive one in search of meaning”.

  • [3] There is also another key figure in symbolic anthropology, David M. Schneider, who does not particularly fall into either of the schools of thought.

  • [3] Victor Turner proposed the concept of “Social Drama” to describe social interactions that entail some sort of conflict in society, proposing their symbolic significance.

  • Victor Turner believed that symbols initiate social actions, and are “determinable influences inclining persons and groups to action.” Turner’s influence came largely from
    Emile Durkheim, caring more about the way symbols functioned within society.

  • [1] In theory, symbolic anthropology assumes that culture lies within the basis of the individuals’ interpretation of their surrounding environment, and that it does not in
    fact exist beyond the individuals themselves.

  • In this way Turner displays his theory of this linear ritual in society involving several exhibits of symbolism.


Works Cited

[‘Geertz, Clifford (1973). The Interpretation of Cultures. Basic Books. pp. 5.
o ^ Jump up to:a b “Symbolic and Interpretive Anthropology”, Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology: An Encyclopedia, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2013,
doi:10.4135/9781452276311.n275, ISBN 978-1-4129-9963-2, retrieved 2020-11-23
o ^ Jump up to:a b c Hudson, Scott; Smith, Carl; Loughlin, Michael; Hammerstedt, Scott. “Symbolic and Interpretive Anthropologies”. Anthropological Theories. The University
of Alabama.
o ^ Grimes, Ronald L. (1985). “Victor Turner’s Social Drama and T. S. Eliot’s Ritual Drama”. Anthropologica. 27 (1/2): 79–99. doi:10.2307/25605177. ISSN 0003-5459. JSTOR 25605177.
o ^ Goodwyn, Erik (January 1, 2014). “Depth Psychology
and Symbolic Anthropology: Toward a Depth Sociology of Psychocultural Interaction”. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. 24 (3): 169–184. doi:10.1080/10508619.2013.828994. S2CID 145358983 – via EBSCO host.
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