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On symbolic meaning

Artikel i övriga tidskrifter
Författare Per Binde
Publicerad i Discussions in social anthropology and culture history
Volym 1
Sidor 1-35
Publiceringsår 1989
Publicerad vid Socialantropologiska institutionen
Sidor 1-35
Språk en
Länkar https://gup.ub.gu.se/file/207095
Ämnesord symbolism, ritual, cultural meaning
Ämneskategorier Socialantropologi


Among social anthropologist, there has in the last two decades been an increasing interest in symbolism. This interest has developed within a non-reductionist theoretical framework, i.e. resting on the assumption that symbolism should be studied as a phenomenon in its own right and not merely as an aspect of non-symbolic circumstances. However, within this broad framework there is little consensus about the nature of symbolic meaning. A large number of more or less disparate theoretical approaches in studying symbolism have been established. Among these, there seem to be two more general lines of analytical inquiry: one is to question the use of the concept “meaning” in relation to symbolism, the other consists of efforts to develop the semantic analysis of cultural meaning. This article is concerned mainly with issues relevant to the latter approach. We will consider some central and controversial questions concerning symbolic meaning, foremost the question of what empirical phenomena we refer to when we speak of the meaning of a symbol or the meanings communicated by ritual. We will in this endeavor refer to linguistic investigations of meaning in natural languages and explore differences and similarities between meaning in culture and in language.

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