The fights both represent and take part in forming the social and cultural structure of the Balinese people which are dramatized through the cockfight.
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Much as I respect oneman, this is just plain wrong. This allows our team to focus on improving the library and adding new essays.
It channels aggression and rivalry into an indirect symbolic sphere of engagement. Unlike osme of the more recent commentaries, this essay is directed at a more political understanding of culture.
People never bet against a cock from their own reference group. Geertz reports that the Balinese people deeply detest animals and more specifically expressions of animal-like behavior. The problem is to learn how to read them, not to decipher something else going on behind the scenes. Geertz shows how the Balinese cockfight serves as a cultural text which embodies, at least a portion of, what the real meaning of being Balinese is.
We may have moved away from the type of culturalism that ignores the political and economic context, but it seems pretty banal to point this out, at least in American anthropology French anthropology being another story.