Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Culture as symbols - Clifford Geertz | Chen Hongshou

An album leaf painting by Ming artist Chen Hongshou (1598–1652) depicting nature scenes. The Chinese viewed painting as a key element of high culture.

The symbolic view of culture, the legacy of Clifford Geertz (1973) and Victor Turner (1967), holds symbols to be both the practices of social actors and the context that gives such practices meaning. Anthony P. Cohen (1985) writes of the "symbolic gloss" which allows social actors to use common symbols to communicate and understand each other while still imbuing these symbols with personal significance and meanings.[14] Symbols provide the limits of cultured thought. Members of a culture rely on these symbols to frame their thoughts and expressions in intelligible terms. In short, symbols make culture possible, reproducible and readable. They are the "webs of significance" in Weber's sense that, to quote Pierre Bourdieu (1977), "give regularity, unity and systematics to the practices of a group."[15] Thus, for example:
  • "Stop, in the name of the law!"—Stock phrase uttered to the antagonists by the sheriff or marshal in 20th century American Old Western films
  • Law and orderstock phrase in the United States
  • Peace and order—stock phrase in the Philippines
  • Ordnung muss sein / Order must be — stock phrase in the Germany, Austria

Painting by the Chinese Ming Dynasty artist Chen Hongshou (1599-1652), leaf from an album of miscellaneous paintings.

http://depts.washington.edu/chinaciv/home/3garplnt.htm#plnts, Zhongguo meishu quanji, Huihua bian 8: Mingdai huihua, xia (Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 1988), pl. 170, p. 191.

Early to mid 17th century, late Ming Dynasty

Chen Hongshou (1598–1652)

Found Here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture

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