Qualitative research can be genuinely confusing and challenging to navigate – it opens the door for us to investigate and interrogate our own subjectivities, after all! By far, my favorite reading about the nature and practice of qualitative research is Clifford Geertz’s essay “Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture.” Navigating that writing can be similarly confusing and challenging. Within it, though, Geertz illuminates and wrestles with the complexities of qualitative research in a way that is awesome in every sense of the word.
To help navigate the reading, my fellow co-instructors and I wrote up the following summary of Geertz’s main argument. It is not meant to be a standalone reading; rather, it is meant to act as a complement to Geertz’s essay itself.