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Theory of Culture

Culture is defined as arts and other expressions of intellectual achievements of humans regarded collectively. It encompasses integrated patterns of beliefs, knowledge, behaviors, a way of life and customs, which rely on learning and passing of these values to the next generations. Culture also refers to collective deposits of experiences, knowledge, convictions, meanings, attitudes, moral stances, religion, hierarchies, spatial relations, roles, time notions and universe concepts. In addition, it includes material possessions and objects acquired by groups of people or the society from one generation to another through striving of a community and individuals. Theory of culture is the division of comparative semiotics and anthropology that tries to outline the idea of heuristic culture in scientific and operational terms. There are several schools of thoughts as far as definitions and construction of culture as an analytical concept are concerned. Therefore, these social issues essays will compare the cultural theories presented by Weber and Geertz. Both theories elaborate on the subject of culture, and their studies are beneficial to the understanding of cultural diversity; hence, it is with the comprehension of such theories that humans can coexist in harmony.

Similarities and Differences in How Geertz and Weber Define and Construct the Theory of Culture as an Analytical Concept.

In their work, Geertz and Weber made efforts to define culture and construct culture theory as an analytical concept. In some instances, they share the same ideas, but there are also differences in their approaches with regard to other aspects.

Similarities

Geertz explains the notion of culture in several ways. Culture is people’s total lifestyle, a manner of believing, feeling or thinking. Another definition set is learned behavior. One more interpretation is a form of normative control of conduct. He also expounds culture as a precipitate of history with techniques of adjusting external environment and the society. Collectively, Geertz sees culture as a web. Similarly, Weber considers culture in the same way. He holds the identical opinion with Geertz that men can be compared with animals who are hanging in a web of meanings spun by themselves. Weber exemplifies these meanings with his views of protestant asceticism, which influenced how people use and acquire wealth. Weber and Geertz made an analogy between culture and that collection of webs the examination of which is not investigational science seeking the law but its interpretation searching for meaning.

Another contribution made by Geertz is the research of ethnography and its role. Ethnography is a compound activity in the concept of thick description. The difference from the thin description is the fact that the thick one pays special attention to details and meanings of each action. The classical example is winking and twitching. One boy twitches the eye involuntarily while another one winks. Although, these two acts are physically the same, but unlike a twitch, a wink is a cultural aspect. Thus, only winks not twitches are recorded by the ethnographer whenever he is researching culture. Similarly, Weber advanced his ideas based on meanings that humans attribute to their behaviors in thee society. Weber analyzed meanings intended by people as well as transpersonal meanings, which are revealed through reciprocal effects of individuals on each other. Weber majorly uses capitalism spirit to highlight issues of the economic culture of the public.

Moreover, Geertz and Weber share the same views on how they construct a theory of culture as an analytical concept. Therefore, that is how they consider religion as a cultural system. Geertz delves into the anthropology of religions. He delineates religion as a systematic set of symbols, which establishes pervasive, powerful and long-lasting motivations as well as moods in men through generating conceptions of the general order of existence. Cultural texts, such as cockfighting, serve as blood sacrifices, which are offered as a religious symbol. Weber also narrows down to the idea of calling, which is an aspect of religion to construct the theory of culture as the analytical concept. Religion plays a key role in human life since it is an integral part of the culture of the society. Thus, religion is a crucial parameter as far as analyzing the notion of culture is concerned.

Differences

Geertz and Weber differed in some perspectives with regard to how they define and construct the theory of culture as an analytical concept. They diverge in their approaches to exploring culture as well as the objects of their analysis. Despite the fact that both Geertz and Weber view life and culture as the wealth of multiple values and meanings, they are quite dissimilar in their objects and outlooks with respect to the theory of culture.

Geertz and Weber define culture differently. Geertz considers culture as arrays of meaning, which are exemplified in symbols and are historically transmitted. He pays attention to all details specifically human behavior such as winking and mock sheep raid as indicators of culture. Weber, on the other hand, outlines culture as a field through which people realize themselves, most importantly as interpreters of their existence or as creators of meaning.

Geertz develops the concept of analyzing cultural practices and activities as ‘texts.' In Balinese cockfight notes on the deep play, Geertz does an examination on cockfights as a text, and it enables him to select aspects, which otherwise might have gone unnoticed. Therefore, this issue is the utilization of emotions to achieve cognitive ends (Geertz 419). The practice of attending cockfights among the Balinese gives them an emotional education. It serves the purpose of teaching and reinforcing reactions and emotions of the culture of the Balinese in the text, which is external. Hence, this leads Geertz to conclude that human culture is a collection of texts, and people themselves, ensembles of which the researcher struggles to read. While Geertz employs traditional cultural activities, particularly cockfights to investigate culture, Weber applies modern objects, namely the spirit of capitalism, to analyze the culture of various communities. Weber argues that capitalism is common in all types of individuals and various conditions across nations of the world.

Weber and Geertz also differ in the idea that religion is used to examine the theory of culture as an analytical concept. Furthermore, Weber gives a lot of emphasis on religion, specifically Protestant ethic to construct the theory of culture as an analytical concept. In addition, Weber discusses broad aspects of religion including the notion of calling, Calvinism and foundations of worldly religious asceticism in order to further investigate the theory of culture. However, Geertz concentrates on other objects putting less stress on religion.

Strengths and Limitations of the Approaches to Analyzing Culture

Weber and Geertz use different objects, namely Protestantism/capitalism and the cockfight as approaches to analyzing culture. Nevertheless, these viewpoints had their strengths and weaknesses as compared and contrasted below.

Strength of Protestantism/Capitalism

Weber’s perspective manages to connect protestant religions, which are emerging with the change in psychology that is important to allow the advancement of the capitalism spirit. The notion of calling, which is a Protestant idea together with the worldly asceticism, is a force, which is independent, but it appeared as a consequence that was not intended due to the Reformation. Therefore, Protestantism was important since it changed the view of those who became workers and capitalists.

Limitation of Protestantism/Capitalism

The notions, which were employed by Weber, are outlined very narrowly. Capitalism used by Weber is different from the idea used by Marx. The spirit of capitalism is a limited concept. Hence, e the characteristics of capitalism are defined away. Another restriction of Weber’s arguments is his notion of rationality in that whatever he sees as irrational is not considered capitalism. As far as Catholicism and capitalism are concerned, capitalistic activity was not inhibited by religion. Moreover, the constrain with regard to the Protestantism/Capitalism aspect is the direction of the causation. Weber asserts that economic issues were in fact separated from religious doctrines, but he does not refute Marxist statement that economic necessities produce religious changes.

Cockfights Strengths as a Way of Analyzing Culture

Using cockfights as cultural practice and activity, a text is important because it reveals the aspects, which otherwise would have gone unnoticed. Cockfights give the Balinese the ability to discover their temper as well as that of the society too. Furthermore, it gives the Balinese locals emotional education by teaching and reinforcing their reactions and emotions. In addition, it is important because the ‘text’ is very relevant to the Balinese people, and the cultural activity of attending cockfights is well entrenched in their everyday life.

Limitations of Cockfights as a Way of Analyzing Culture

The major limitation of cockfights as a way of analyzing culture is that it is specific to the particular culture of the Balinese. The same object of cockfights cannot be applied while examining cultures of other groups of individuals. Therefore, it may be deduced that the findings from this study cannot mirror some other societies that do not have the same cultural practice of cockfighting.

In summary, there are several schools of thought with respect to the definition of culture and construction of the theory of culture as an analytical concept. Weber and Geertz concur in some aspects while differing sharply on other facets. Moreover, analyzing culture involves various objects including Protestantism, capitalism, and cockfight as approaches to its investigation.

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