A Geertzian Cockfight: Symbolic Interpretism, Marxist Materialism or Synthesis?

Balinese Cockfight 1949 by Alred Palmer

Balinese Cockfight 1949 by Alred Palmer

This paper compares and contrasts a Marxian materialist approach with a symbolic interpretive approach to describing Geertz’s cockfight from “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” in The Interpretation of Cultures (pages 412-453) from the vantage of its participants and its spectators.  By doing so I hope to show the limitations of each of these often-times oppositional theoretical perspectives. However, using these perspectives together, in synthesis, can create a more situated and complete ethnographic record of a culture (Behar 1997:28; Ortner 2006:453). First I will present the foundations of each theoretical model and then I will compare and contrast each as applied to Geertz’s cockfight essay. Continue reading


Resistance & Post-Modernism

Post-modern theorists Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault had different notions of the roles of culture and power in society. Both of these researchers were influenced by the Marxist view of inequality in societies as being concealed and justified by dominating ideologies. They both protested social injustice during the socially tumultuous late Sixties and early Seventies. They both believed that governments were created to serve the interests of the political and economic elite. The following paper will attempt to explain how these hugely influential social scientists differed in their perspectives of the relationships between the powerless in society and the powerful. Continue reading