chapter
5 Pages

Ways in to the Text

ByAbena Dadze-Arthur

Cultural anthropology looks at the variations among human cultures. Many considered Geertz the most important cultural anthropologist in the United States. The cultural anthropologist Clifford Geertz is best known for his 1973 work The Interpretation of Cultures. In 1970 Geertz became a professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, where he worked for 30 years until the end of his career. Geertz defined culture as "system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms". In other words, he viewed culture as an organized collection of symbols and signs that carry particular meaning. Even people who are not religious and therefore outsiders to this particular cultural system recognize the symbol. Based on his concept of culture, Geertz believed we ought to study it in a particular way. Interpretive scholars must explain and clarify the realities that different groups of people have built in their social world.