The Author’s Contribution
Clifford Geertz wrote the essays in The Interpretation of Cultures over 15 years. In the first two parts of his work, Geertz draws on philosophy, literary theory, and sociology. Geertz organized the book's 15 essays into five parts that set out the framework for his new way of studying culture. This allowed him to systematically build his argument for an interpretive anthropology. Geertz uses parts three and four of The Interpretation of Cultures to examine two specific cultural systems: religion and ideology. These symbols outline a general order of existence, or the "really real". To Geertz, religious symbols act as vehicles for conceptualizing the "really real". To study them is to bring the particular religion into focus. Geertz imported the interpretive trend begun by German sociologist Max Weber into the discipline of anthropology.