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  1. S.Ortner firsts methodical suggestions for anthropologists to study symbols and to distinguish a key symbol
  2. How to classify scientifically the different symbols
  3. C.Hallpike's work tend to explain the meaning of the symbol

This essay is based on C.R.Hallpike's work on "Social Hair? and Sherry B.Ortner's work "On Key Symbols?. The 1960s and 1970s were a period of important changes in anthropological studies. Most anthropologists react to Marxism and structuralism by changing their conception of their role. After that period, anthropologists would have to understand and analyze the symbolic basis of culture. The new conception is that cultures are made of symbols, and those systems of symbols can be decoded by anthropologists. To do so they focus on ''key symbols'' or ''core symbols'' which summarize the particular worldview, organization and conceptions of a given culture? What criteria can they use to study the meanings of a symbol? How can they make a hierarchy between key and less important symbols? Can we find universal symbols that could be extend to all human beings?

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