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Clifford Geertz, “From the Native’s Point of View”. The Point of View of the Researcher ・ The Position of the Researcher 1. Bronislaw Malinowski’s A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term showed Malinowski as: sometimes dissatisfied with, and unsympathetic to, the natives he studied.

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clifford geertz from the native s point of view
Clifford Geertz, “From the Native’s Point of View”
  • The Point of View of the Researcher ・

The Position of the Researcher

1. Bronislaw Malinowski’s A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term showed Malinowski as: sometimes dissatisfied with, and unsympathetic to, the natives he studied.

Geertz’s question: “if it is not…a capacity to think, feel, and perceive like a native, how is anthropological knowledge of the way natives think, feel, and perceive possible? When we can no longer claim a sort of transcultural identification with our subjects?”

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Clifford Geertz, “From the Native’s Point of View”

The Point of View of the Researcher ・

The Position of the Researcher

2. “Experience-near” concepts:

how an informant might describe his/her own feelings and thoughts, and the feelings and thoughts of close friends or neighbours

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Clifford Geertz, “From the Native’s Point of View”

The Point of View of the Researcher ・

The Position of the Researcher

3. “Experience-distant” concepts:

how a specialist might describe such thoughts and feelings, in order to prove their scientific or conceptual hypotheses.

“Experience-near” and “Experience-distant” are notqualitativelydifferent; nor is one preferable to the other.

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Clifford Geertz, “From the Native’s Point of View”

The Point of View of the Researcher ・

The Position of the Researcher

4. “The trick is not to get yourself into some inner correspondence of spirit with your informants….

  • The trick is to figure out what they think they are up to” p. 58 top
  • What the ethnographer perceives “is what they perceive ‘by means of’” p. 58 mid
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Clifford Geertz, “From the Native’s Point of View”
  • Investigating social organizations

through the concept of “person”

1. “The Western conception of the person as a bounded, unique, more or less integrated motivational and cognitive universe, a dynamic center of awareness, emotion, judgment, and action organized into a distinctive whole…

is a rather peculiar idea within the context of the world’s cultures.” (p. 59 middle)

First, the researcher must ignore this idea, and apply ① the framework of the informants’ idea of self-hood to the informants’ ② experiences

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Clifford Geertz, “From the Native’s Point of View”

Investigating social organizations

through the concept of “person”

2. Personal and societal conceptions of

inside / outside, and their proper

ordering or hierarchy within that society

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Clifford Geertz, “From the Native’s Point of View”

III. The internal point of view: Frameworks by which people designate and interact with each other within the organization

1. Labels and Interrelationships (“Status markers”)

  • Birth order
  • Kinship
  • Caste or class
  • Gender
  • Position at workplace or position in social order
  • Other
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Clifford Geertz, “From the Native’s Point of View”

The internal point of view: Frameworks by which people designate and interact with each other within the organization

2. Status markers and their definition of the “person”

⇒ One’s “identity” is not simply personal and individual, but “representative of a generic type” who functions in a defined position within a web of social relations:

one’s “cultural (or organizational) location”

※Note: such rigid, performative roles are more commonly found in close-knit, densely populated, immobile societies. They provide the necessary personal distance among individuals.

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Clifford Geertz, “From the Native’s Point of View”

IV. The internal point of view: Social attribution frameworks

⇒ “Symbolic means by which to sort people out”

1.Internal means of sorting and designating members of a society or organization = “contextualizing the person”

  • By ethnic group
  • Within ethnic group, by family or clan membership (genealogy)
  • By village or place of origin
  • By occupation

Each person has more than one of these designations, and is known by a different designation depending on the narrower or wider social context:

“Identity is borrowed from the setting”

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Clifford Geertz, “From the Native’s Point of View”

The internal point of view: Social attribution frameworks

2. “Looking at persons as though they were outlines waiting to be filled in, is part of a total pattern of social life”

  • Distinctions made among persons within the same, but diverse, society: by context of life and practices
  • Connections made among persons within the same, but diverse, society: by context of personal choice (occupation, friendships, politics)
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Clifford Geertz, “From the Native’s Point of View”

The internal point of view: Social attribution frameworks

3. Public identity as based in private arenas of life

  • Public interaction based on “positional” categories that are supposedly permanent and inherent
  • Private interaction based in subjective experience within the household and religious and neighbourhood groupings
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Clifford Geertz, “From the Native’s Point of View”

V. Back to the researcher’s point of view on “the native’s point of view” = “other people’s subjectivities”

  • Semiotic means by which people define each other within one society or organization
  • Semiotic means by which we (researchers) grasp their ways of doing this:
    • Dialectic between extreme detail (thick description・ethnography) and “global” (broad) conceptual structures and explanations
    • The “hermeneutic circle”: researchers attempt to make details explain the concept and make concepts explain the details