chapter  6
5 Pages

Secondary Ideas

ByAbena Dadze-Arthur

Clifford Geertz's The Interpretation of Cultures contains two significant secondary ideas-religion and ideology as two specific "meaning systems". Geertz used these to illustrate his core thesis. Geertz shows how both religion and ideology provide people with particular systems of meaning and help them order their lives. Religion, he proposes, is a cultural system devoted to defining what is "really real" for people; it is a set of symbols that creates compelling and enduring feelings in people by setting out a general order of existence: the way things are, on both the cosmic and material level. Geertz illustrated this point by discussing the funeral of a young boy in Java who had died suddenly. The second reason involved improvised modifications created to allow the funeral to proceed; instead of coming to a collective consensus about ways to alter the funeral rite, one individual took charge and made the changes unilaterally.