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thick description

  A term coined by the philosopher Gilbert Ryle and introduced into social science by Clifford Geertz (1973), referring to ethnographic descriptions based on intensive investigations of informants\' actions and their interpretations of their own actions placed within a specific cultural context. Thick description is contrasted with \'thin description\' based on the tenets of behaviourism or on survey research (cf. behavioural geography; survey analysis), where a detailed description of the informants\' meaning system and broader social context is not always considered necessary. Thick description is a type of hermeneutic rather than phenomenological method in that it represents the researcher\'s interpretation of her or his informants\' interpretations. (JSD)

References Geertz, C. 1973: The interpretation of cultures. New York: Basic Books.



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