By William Roseberry
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Extra resources for Anthropologies and Histories: Essays in Culture, History, and Political Economy
A n d as (to follow W eber rather than Bentham ) the imposition of m e a n ing in life is the major and prim ary condition of h u m a n exis tence, that access of significance more than compensates for the economic costs involved. (19 73 c: 434) Geertz th e n looks to two aspects of significance in the cock fight. B o th are related to the hierarchical organization of B a l i nese society. : 436 ). T o explore this, Geertz m entio n s the four d e scent groups that organize factions in the village a n d e x a m in e s the rules in vo lve d in betting against the cocks o w n ed by m e m bers of other descent groups, other villages, rivals, a n d so on.
C u l ture’s auto no m y, a n d its im p o r ta n c e , rest on this dual character: although m e a n in g s are socially p ro duced , they may be ex tended to situations w h e r e a functionalist m ig h t say they do not fit, or they m a y be a p p l ie d e v e n after the circumstances and activities that pro duced t h e m h a v e c h a n g e d . T h is is not to call u p the old notion of “ cultural lag,” w h ic h would im p l y that the lack of fit is tem po ra ry a n d that at some p o in t functional corre spondence will be r eg a in e d .
W h il e there are aspects of it w it h w h ic h most a ny M a rxis t would agree, it has h a d unfortunate consequences. First, al though it seems to b e g in w it h people (“ m e n ” ), it m oves quickly to structure: relations of pro duction, e co n o m ic structure of society, m o d e of pro ductio n. T h e s e structures then act u p o n , or “ c o n d i tion,” other structures (the political superstructure a n d con sciousness), w h ic h are seen as secondary or d e r iva t iv e . W h e t h e r one’s appr o a ch to the relationship betw een these structures is m echanical or “ dialectical,” the structural hierarchy r em a in s i n tact.