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``Culture is not a power, something to which social events, behaviours, institutions, or processes can be causally attributed; it is a context, something within which they
 

Summary: ``Culture is not a power, something to which social events, behaviours, institutions,
or processes can be causally attributed; it is a context, something within which they
can be intelligiblyöthat is, thicklyödescribed.''
Geertz (1973, page 14)
1 Introduction
In a seminal book published thirty years ago, Clifford Geertz (1973) advocated `thick
description' in anthropology. Geertz offered thick description as one way to overcome
the methodological caveats that he perceived to be plaguing anthropological scholar-
ship. For Geertz, thick description was an approach which, on one hand, avoided
descriptive noncumulative cataloguing of `culture' whilst, on the other hand, not
succumbing to universal theorising of the type that is detached from the rich texture
and meaning of everyday life. One of the hallmarks of thick description for Geertz was
generalisationöthe identification of connections and general patterns that are charac-
teristic of a certain context (pages 25 ^ 26). In this paper we argue that there is an
equally compelling argument for a `thick analysis' of environmental decisionmaking.
Decisionmaking can be thought of as a process which proceeds via a series of
stages or phases as part of a problem-solving exercise. It is usually a process to which
all or some of those individuals or groups who have a vested interest (that is, the
stakeholders) may have access and in which they may be able to participate. When
undertaken on behalf of society by some authority, decisionmaking is akin to policy-

  

Source: Adger, Neil - School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

 

Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology