Symbolic Anthropology Quiz



9 Questions

What is symbolic anthropology?

Who are the major figures in symbolic anthropology?

What are the two major approaches to symbolic anthropology?

What is Geertz's interpretive approach?

Who is David M. Schneider?

What is Turner's concept of “Social Drama”?

What is “Thick Description”?

What is the focus of symbolic anthropology?

What is the relationship between anthropology and psychology?


Symbolic Anthropology: Understanding Cultural Symbols

  • Symbolic anthropology studies cultural symbols and how they help understand a society.
  • Culture lies within the individuals’ interpretation of their environment, and the meaning assigned to behavior is molded by culturally established symbols.
  • There are two major approaches to symbolic anthropology, interpretive and symbolic, with different figures, Clifford Geertz and Victor Turner, respectively.
  • David M. Schneider is another key figure in symbolic anthropology who does not fall into either of the schools of thought.
  • Symbolic anthropology follows a literary basis instead of an empirical one, focusing on tools like psychology and literature.
  • Prominent figures in symbolic anthropology include Clifford Geertz, David M. Schneider, Victor Turner, and Mary Douglas.
  • Geertz's interpretive approach asserts that humans need symbolic “sources of illumination” to orient themselves to the system of meaning in a particular culture.
  • Turner believed that symbols initiate social actions and are “determinable influences inclining persons and groups to action.”
  • The purpose of symbolic and interpretive anthropology can be described through “Thick Description,” a term used often by Geertz that originated from Gilbert Ryle.
  • Turner proposed the concept of “Social Drama” to describe social interactions that entail some sort of conflict in society, proposing their symbolic significance.
  • Anthropology and psychology have influenced one another from very early on, especially due to the influence of different figures such as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Claude Lévi-Strauss.
  • There was early hesitation among major figures to integrate the two fields, despite clear overlap in thought.


Test your knowledge of Symbolic Anthropology with our quiz! Learn about the cultural symbols that help us understand societies, the different approaches to symbolic anthropology, and the key figures who have shaped this field of study. From Clifford Geertz's interpretive approach to Victor Turner's emphasis on symbols initiating social action, this quiz covers it all. Challenge yourself and see how much you know about the fascinating world of symbolic anthropology!

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