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Clifford Geertz’s Interpretive Approach to Religion



Clifford Geertz is often lauded as the key social scientist in the contemporary shift from an interpretive approach to religion and to culture in general to an explanatory approach. Supposedly, the shift is from concern with the cause of religion to concern with the meaning of religion. This article argues, first, that Geertz associates an interpretive approach with an array of distinct considerations and argues, second, that Geertz actually seeks to combine an interpretive approach with an explanatory one rather than to substitute an interpretive approach for an explanatory one.