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*Most of these are works in progress

Clifford Geertz' 1973 Essay "Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture" Geertz is in Weber's camp, beleiving as Weber did that "man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun..." "In anthropology [sic] what the practioners do is ethnography." From one point of view, this means: - establishing rapport - selecting informants - transcribing texts - taking genealogies - mapping fields - keeping a diary From Geertz point of view: - "the kind of intellectual effor it is: an elaborate venture in, to borrow a notion from Gilbert Ryle, 'thick description'." Describes a thick description in terms of (i think) Ryle's example of winking: - Thin: "rapidly contracting his right eyelids" - Thick: "practicing a burlesque of a friend faking a wink to deceive an innocent into thinking a conspiracy is in motion." - These examples are in the context of a group of boys winking, having a twitch that might be mistaken for a wink, a boy parodying a wink, and a boy rehearsing a wink, all of which, from a thin perspective would be indistinguishable. (Ryle's example) - Between these two points, writes Geertz, "lies the object of ethnogoraphy: a stratified hierarchy of meaningful structures in terms of which twitches, winks, fake-winks, parodies, rehersals of parodies are produced, perceived and interpreted, and without which they would not in fact exist, no matter what anyone did or didn't do with his eyelids." Geertz quotes Ward Goodenough on what a culture is: "A society's culture consists of whatever it is one has to know or believe in order to operate in a manner acceptable to its members." Geertz: "Culture is public because meaning is." Geertz: "Nothing has done more, I think, to discredit cultural analysis than the construction of impeccable depictions of formal order in whose existance nobody can quite believe." Geertz on who are most likely to be critics of anthro: - Sociologists obsessed with sample size - Psychologists with measures - Economists with aggregates On the pitfalls of ethnogoraphies being by nature microscopic (some people, a village, etc), Geertz identifies two types of false anthro methodology: - The idea that one can find the essence of a great nation/religon etc in a small town - The 'natural laboratory' idea of study. - What laboratory has no manipulable parameters quips Geertz! I think tellingly, Geertz writes: - "One cannot write a 'General Theory of Cultural Interpretation". Or, rather, one can, but there appears to be little profit in it, becuase the essential task of theory building here is not to codify abstract regularities but to make thick description possible, not to generalize across cases, but to generalize within them." - Generalizing within cases often called "clinical inference." Again tellingly on anthro, Geertz: - "Anthropology, or at least interpretive anthropology, is a science whos progress is marked less by a perfection of consensus than by a refinement of debate. What gets better is the precesion with which we vex eachother." Finally, Geertz positions himself in the morass he's painted, providing the following analogy for anthro (as I understand it now): - Just becuase it's (just about - you know, rule #5) impossible to create a perfectly aseptic room, no one performs sugery in a sewer. - And the last sentence, which references the recurring narative analogy of Geertz' recollection of the Jewish traders, Berber tribesmen and French occupational forces: - "The essential vocation of interpretive anthropology is not to answer our deepest questions, but to make available to us answers that others, guarding other sheep in other valleys, have given, and thus to include them in the consultable record of what man has said."