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Visions of ReligionExperience, Meaning, and Power$
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Stephen S. Bush

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199387403

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199387403.001.0001

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Meaning and Power

Meaning and Power

(p.91) 4 Meaning and Power
Visions of Religion

Stephen S. Bush

Oxford University Press

This chapter demonstrates that meaning and power are co-implicated: one cannot be studied without the other. Clifford Geertz’s work on meaning and interpretation is valuable, but Geertz does not adequately theorize power. Certain of his views are indispensable, but his account must be supplemented with attention to power, which this chapter does using the theoretical insights of Pierre Bourdieu, Talal Asad, and others. By using a social practical account, inspired by Ludwig Wittgenstein, of language and symbols, this chapter provides a theory of symbolic meaning that is not private and divorced from the public world of political contestation. The chapter then details seven important ways in which meaning and power are invested in each other.

Keywords:   meaning, power, Clifford Geertz, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Pierre Bourdieu

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