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Interpreted Essay

In The Interpretation of Cultures Geertz aims at a definition of culture and what it means to the practice of a cultural anthropologist. He explains that “culture is not a power, something to which social events, behaviors, institutions, or processes can be causally attributed.” Culture, in other words, does not determine human behavior. It cannot be reduced to laws, systematic rules, or paradigms of behavior, whether conscious or unconscious. Culture, on the contrary, “is a context, something within which [social events, behaviors, institutions, or processes] can be intelligibly—that is, thickly—described.” It gives meaning to individual acts, a yardstick against which they can be interpreted and judged. Therefore, the practice of cultural anthropology, the analysis of culture, is “not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretive one in search of meaning.”

Geertz takes exception to those who would locate culture in the minds and hearts of men. While thinking takes place in the head and involves the whole of human psychology, Geertz nevertheless maintains that “human thought is consummately social: social in its origins, social in its functions, social in its forms, social in its applications.” Human thinking, as a subjective phenomenon, cannot be observed, but its forms and functions within the social arena can be minutely observed. Cultural anthropology, as Geertz practices it, begins inductively with the observation and description of social patterns.

Yet, as Geertz recognized, observation and description, in and of themselves, are insufficient to describe culture. As he points out, culture cannot be reduced to specific behavior patterns—customs, usages, traditions, habit clusters. On the contrary, culture is best seen as a set of rules that serve to govern behavior. To use a linguistic analogy, cultural patterns provide the grammar,...

(The entire section is 779 words.)

Essay Men and Women: As Interpreted by Deborah Tannen

786 Words4 Pages

Did you know, “men and women talk differently because they are raised in something like two different cultures: a male culture from which young men learn to speak like men and a female culture in which young women learn to speak like women?”(Cooper and MacDonald 9). Well, not actually from two separate cultures, but the idea of men and women being opposites as pointed out in the opening. Deborah Tannen has made her theory that a male culture and female culture each exist, very popular with the human population and has written an extensive book on her theory.
To define these communication conundrums, Tannen discusses “rapport-talk” and “report-talk”. She defines “rapport-talk” as “For most women, the language of conversation is primarily…show more content…

The typical stereotypes of communication are that women talk more than men, that is not necessarily true. For example, Tannen states, “...another explanation is that men think women talk to much because they hear women talking in situations where men would not: on the telephone; or in social situations with friends, when they are not discussing topics that men find inherently interesting, or; like the couple at the women’s group, at home alone-in other words, in private speaking” (Cooper and MacDonald 11). Men and women have two different conversational styles, different ways of talking. They also have different ideas of what is important and what is not. For example, Tannen points out that the man thought it wasn’t important that his friend was getting married, but the woman had thought that it was important (Cooper and MacDonald 12).
In Tannen’s book, You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, she begins with the basis of her general idea: “Many years ago I was married to a man who shouted at me, "I do not give you the right to raise your voice to me, because you are a woman and I am a man. This was frustrating, because I knew it was unfair. But I also knew just what was going on. I ascribed his unfairness to his having grown up in a country where few people thought women and men might have equal rights” (You Just...). This personal experience of hers seems

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