symbols-exam essay

symbols-exam essay - Signs and Symbols (Religion and...

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Signs and Symbols (Religion and Personal Experience) Cultures can be thought of as tunnel visions which lock out certain things and exclude others. Pierre Bourdieu argues that practical consciousness is filled with assumptions people have about the world, beyond which there is the unthinkable . As much as culture needs to be flexible to accommodate change, it needs to be stable for social actors to be able to stereotype, thus creating notions of norms such as concepts, categories, selection and evaluation and social conventions and order where the latter are mainly born out of ritual. Thus religion can be understood as a cosmology meaning a world which is meaningful to that society and builds a particular world view, a set of beliefs, attitudes and ideas. It creates a particular framework for social actors to think through and to act accordingly through social conventions, moral values, sanctions and principles. Symbols are multi-vocal and stand for many things both in the public and private realm of society. Geertz sees religion as a cultural system, where sacred symbols function to synthesize a people’s ethos and their world view. Geertz employs “symbol” in the sense of meaning as cultural patterns and sources of information. Cultural patterns provide a set of instructions for the institution of the social and the psychological processes which shape public behaviour. Thus, they also pertain to individual psychological world, where religion is privatised and believer has the space to think and exercise choice. This falls in the post-Durkheimian way of cosmos, where religion becomes individualised. However, Geertz’s universal theory of religion oscillates between the classical Durkheimian way and the post-Durkheimian way, which leads to privatisation of religion. Cultural patterns are twofold: models of and model for reality. The first is an analysis of the system of meaning embodied in symbols which make up religion proper, and the second the relation of these symbols to social structure and psychological processes. In fact both Meyer Fortes and Boddy argue that experience is culturally shaped or dialectical relation to culture, society and power and not something that exists prior to them. Thus, when the Tallensi worship their ancestors it is because ancestry and parenthood is determinant of their whole social structure – their social structure demands it. Tallensi concepts and beliefs are religious extrapolations (act of guessing) of the experiences generated in the relationship between parents and children in societies with a social organisation based on kinship and descent. Roots of the belief are in the family system and branch out to the entire social structure. They bind the familial domain to external politico-jural domain where eventually they run their life course. This is invested with sacredness. According to Geertz religious symbols shape the world by inducing in
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This note was uploaded on 02/25/2012 for the course ANTH 1312 taught by Professor Agwuele during the Fall '08 term at Texas State.

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symbols-exam essay - Signs and Symbols (Religion and...

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