Symbolic anthropology

Symbolic anthropology (or more broadly, symbolic and interpretive anthropology) is the study of cultural symbols and how those symbols can be interpreted to better understand a particular society. It is often viewed in contrast to cultural materialism. Clifford Geertz writes, "Believing, with Max Weber, that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun, I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretive one in search of meaning."[1]

Prominent symbolic anthropologists include Clifford Geertz, David Schneider, Victor Turner, and Mary Douglas.


  • Key publications 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Key publications

  • Geertz, Clifford (1973) The interpretation of cultures, Basic Books, New York
  • Geertz, Clifford. (Ed.) (1974) Myth, symbol, and culture, W. W. Norton, New York
  • Schneider, David (1968) American kinship: A cultural account. Prentice-Hall, New Jersey
  • Turner, Victor (1974) Dramas, fields and metaphors: Symbolic action in human society, Cornell University Press, Ithaca

See also


  1. ^ Geertz, Clifford (1973). The Interpretation of Cultures. Basic Books. p. 5. 

External links

  • "Symbolic and interpretive anthropologies", Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama, retrieved March 13, 2013
  • Culture and Public Action: Symbolic anthropology