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clifford geertz thick description

Thick description was first introduced by the British philosopher Gilbert Ryle in 1949 in "The Thinking of Thoughts: What is 'Le Penseur' Doing?" Geertz, however, rejects this Anthropological approach. These ideas would challenge Edward Burnett Tylor's concepts of culture as a "most complex whole" that is able to be understood; instead culture, to Geertz, could never be fully understood or observed. Greenblatt’s “Towards a Poetics of Culture” – Iter Per Litterās, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. This method emerged at a time when the ethnographic school was pushing for an ethnographic approach that paid particular attention to everyday events. The web of signification that contextualizes the wink seems potentially endless: What the ethnographer is in fact faced with…is a multiplicity of complex conceptual structures, many of them superimposed upon or knotted into one another, which are at once strange, irregular, and inexplicit, and which we must contrive somehow first to grasp and then to render. Thick description is a social sciences qualitative research technique that gives detailed descriptions and interpretations of situations observed by a researcher. Malinowski felt that an anthropologist should try to understand the perspectives of ethnographic subjects in relation to their own world. Geertz differentiates these two descriptions using the example of “winking.” The act of winking involves twitching one’s eye muscles so that the lids of the eye blink. To Geertz, analysis separated observation from interpretative methodologies. Anthropology for Geertz does not look for a coherent system, a sort of skeleton key that undergirds all action and, if located, reveals the essence of humanity. As Geertz notes, someone could be winking ironically, mocking someone else’s wink. Robinson's critique, 1983). 1983. 1986. This was all under the assumption that a better anthropology included understanding the particular behaviors of the communities being studied. In the 1970s, however, Anthropologist Clifford Geertz saw that the diffuse way other Anthropologists and ethnographers defined culture began to obscure its usefulness. Ultimately, both writers operate with fields of symbols and write down their interpretations. (10). Following Ryle's work, the American anthropologist Clifford Geertz re-popularized the concept. In the social sciences and related fields, a thick description is a description of human social action that describes not just physical behaviors, but their context as interpreted by the actors as well, so that it can be better understood by an outsider. The term was first introduced by 20th-century philosopher Gilbert Ryle. [8], This approach brings about its own difficulties. [1] Since then, the term and the methodology it represents has gained widespread currency, not only in the social sciences but also, for example, in the type of literary criticism known as New Historicism. Following Ryle, Geertz holds that anthropology'stask is that of explaining cultures through thick description which specifiesmany details, conceptual structures and meanings, and which is opposed to"thin description" which is a factual … This method is essential to approach the actual context of a culture. and "Thinking and Reflecting".[2]. Nor is it the case that Geertz like a pure relativist rails against empirical approaches. “What man is,” he writes, “may be so entangled with where he is, who he is, and what he believes that it is inseparable from them” (35). They are both fictional, he argues, in the sense of the Latin root fictio, or ‘a making’. 1 thought on “Clifford Geertz’s “Thick Description”” Greenblatt’s “Towards a Poetics of Culture” – Iter Per Litterās 8 Oct 2019 9:09 pm Reply […] is, in the lingo of Anthropologist Clifford Geertz, New Historicism views culture as an interpretable web of signification spun by human […] The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. In The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. He was against comprehensive theories of human behavior; rather, he advocated methodologies that highlight culture from the perspective of how people looked at and experienced life. Geertz differentiates these two descriptions using the example of “winking.”. "[citation needed] To Geertz, culture should be treated as symbolic, allowing for observations to be connected with greater meanings. My Lit Journey: A Travelogue of Literary Arts. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Geertz’s groundbreaking collection of essays, The Interpretation of Cultures (1973), narrows the definition of culture by wedding it to semiotics, the study of signs. A twitch becomes a wink when it communicates a mutually understood meaning. According to Geertz’s, ethnography is by definition “thick description”—“an elaborate venture in.” By example of “winking,” Geertz observes how—in order to differentiate the winking from a social gesture, a twitch, etc.—we must This is not to say that local knowledge cannot help outline a more general (and thus more abstract) understanding of humanity. ( Log Out /  He called the confusion over how to define culture a “conceptual morass” (4). In another it might convey comradery in some sort of conspiracy. The only difference between them are the social contexts from which each arose. However, the predominant sense in which it is used today was developed by anthropologist Clifford Geertz in his book The Interpretation of Cultures (1973) to characterise his own method of doing ethnography. His 1973 article, "Thick Description: … This analysis begins with distinguishing all individuals present and coming to an integrative synthesis that accounts for the actions produced. Basic Books, 1973. 1985. harvcoltxt error: no target: CITEREFMunson1986 (, harvcoltxt error: no target: CITEREFRobinson1983 (, symbolic and interpretive anthropological. If humans across the globe subscribe to different rituals and religious practices, such thinkers looked beneath this diversity of practices in order to find a sort of religious instinct or psychological factor that made religion an intrinsic aspect of man. Geertz interpretive theory gives literary critics a way to think about how to connect a given text to the long lost historical and cultural context it emerged from. As Lincoln & Guba (1985) indicate, findings are not the result of thick description; rather they result from analyzing the materials, concepts, or persons that are "thickly described.

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