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Lecture 6

Lecture 6 Oct 19.docx

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Vanina Leschziner

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SOC483Y1- October 19, 2011 PRESENTATION Geertz – similar to Weber’s approach – Weber saw the human as an animal suspended in webs of own construction. Geertz saw the threads in the web as having meaning and tried to define- tried to search for meaning- ultimate purpose of culture- Geertz was specific about sociology and sought the method of sociology and found ethnography or “thick-note” taking – extensively descriptive- note-taking – write down what is going on as if it is a novel, diary, defined by intellectual effort in thick description - Geertz looks at Gilbert Ryle- “the winking boy” – twitch or gesture, it is deliberate to impart message based on socially established code, parody – Point: the thin description would not be able to describe hierarchal levels of abstraction, “simply be boy twitching eye in front of mirror” Geertz’s own example of thick description, spent time in Morocco, does not describe Morocco from outset – long presentation that does not make sense at first – meanings within symbolic action – symbolic significant within thick description make arguments whether culture is subjective or objective argument made irrelevant- thus we need to know what is being signified by particular acts in the given situation. Culture is not causal, but rather the context in which things can be intelligently described, we want to develop initial tones and concepts by looking within particular context, or culture interprets concepts… Anthropologist is apparently an active agent… we want meaning based in a specific context Geertz wants to find “minding” no universal applications Anthropologists tried to take micro and turn into macro – which causes macro experimental problems thus he provides things to be aware of… Ex: protest- as natural social experiment is flawed because you cannot control a riot cannot say you identified specific variables SAHLINS Similarity with Geertz? – They are both looking for meaning, speaking to importance of meaning on social structure Sahlins challenges materialist approach to capitalism - He would challenge a material world concept - He challenges the historical materialist argument, and believes they made an essential mistake- that they can separate into material aspects and social need to get along - Historical materialist analysis ignore unity of culture, ignorant of reason imposed in society – believe nature is a deterministic force and society based on personal interests – but this separation ignores culture as itself having symbolic meaning (According to Sahlins) which could potentially define personal interest - Nature : realm of possibilities - Culture: actualization of possibilities, where meaning comes in, once actualized it takes on a life of its own, takes on a form, meaning = thus society can react against it – culture responds based on earlier instances taken from realm of possibilities… - Discounts Western culture as unique – so what makes it unique? What makes it distinct from other cultures? - What is the dominant site of symbolic production?! – this is key to understanding Lecture - Geertz and others claimed each culture is different – it is hard to understand another cultures gesture if we are not part of it or do not know it but it is still possible – he took the viewpoint of those Native to the culture - Geertz and Durkheim sit in different worlds- perhaps associate with Marx, surely Weber Geertz- good humour, not a grand theorist, recognizes inconsistencies, knows cultural interpretation cannot produce universal theory, we will always remain close to the ground, and we generalize within a case… When we deal with culture, you will never really find origin- you can never really find the answer, instead look at what we can learn – this is because questions of origin are difficult. Culture changes slowly, we come into a society with already symbolic meanings, it is hard to figure out where it all started… If Sahlins is stressing so much the nature of cultural symbolic meanings in capitalism, it is a reaction to Marxism. He would not really disagree with Marx, there is choice constrained by material conditions, In Anthropology, Marxism was present, not much in sociology here Two big trends in Anthropology 1. Marxism- Sahlins argues against them 2. Functionalism- Geertz argues against them  Anthropologists made conclusions on primitive and Western cultures – Western cultures first argued better, but then argued no different – Sahlins argues against the other end of pendulum and argument there is no difference between the cultures. According to Sahlins, Western society and symbolic meanings does not always have the context of economy, sometimes it could be site of production or kinship Sahlins- the economy in capitalism became very important but that does not mean there is pure rationality and instrumentality at realm of economy it just means our symbolic meanings come from that rather than kinship – thus meanings come from different places! Ex: why men wear pants and women skirts- 1950s workforce women wear
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