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The methodological concern relates less to operationalization than to conceptualization.

It's about something called subjective/intersubjective views of culture.

The subjective view of culture says that there is nothing that is shared across people in a society.  Culture is basically the sum total of all opinions in a society.  So that concepts don't have meanings that are the same across actors.

The intersubjective view of culture says that culture is more than the sum of opinions in a society.  It's something that has shared meaning across individuals.  So for example various words like democracy and the like have the same shared meaning to Swiss people in the four national languages.  But, the meaning is not the same between Swiss German and Bavarian German.  

I hope that was clear, but it's a huge issue.

The WVS relies upon methodological individualism, so there is in essence, no such thing as society.  Only individuals.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun Apr 19th, 2009 at 11:17:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How would you suggest to do a survey across countries? Is it impossible?

And, further, you can't ask a question of society but only of the individuals in it. So, methodilogical individualism is not so much of a problem as philosophical individualism.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 20th, 2009 at 03:57:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How would you suggest to do a survey across countries? Is it impossible?

Now you've hit on a problem I can get my mind around! The simple linguistic challenge of asking identical questions, with identical cultural and emotional content across cultures is impossible. Due to the same factors they try to measure here.

It's analogous to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.

Excellent point.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Mon Apr 20th, 2009 at 08:09:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
papicek:
It's analogous to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.
No it isn't.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 20th, 2009 at 09:08:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure it is. Consider the same question in multiple languages. As one uses more precise language in an attempt to establish a correct response, the likelihood of the terms being misunderstood grows greater. I don't imagine there's anyway to measure the divergence.

Just because of the cultural/language dixconnect, there's always going to be an element of uncertainty, the degree of which is indeterminant, no matter what the sample size is. I'd expect to see this, anyways.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Tue Apr 21st, 2009 at 10:43:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But in the case of Heisenberg, 1) there's not only a way to measure the uncertainty but there's a formula for it; 2) the uncertainty principle applies only to individual instances of attempted simultaneous measurements - if you have the luxury of repeated measurements on a sample the uncertainty goes away.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 21st, 2009 at 11:01:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Semantic differential is - at least was - the way to measure "meaning" across languages/cultures.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Apr 21st, 2009 at 03:19:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that surveys get you the sum of attitudes in a society, and that may be somewhat different than culture.

Culture is often invisible to the person who is embedded in it, but controls and constrains their actions, and guides their beliefs.

Take the idea of an equality/efficiency tradeoff.  Where the idea is ingrained in the culture (US/UK) attitudes towards things like labor unions and other things that might bring about a more equal distribution of wealth are effected by this underlying idea in culture.

What you get when you do a survey that shows resistance to progressive taxation, etc, is what people believe, not why.  

And culture is at heart, the why factor.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon Apr 20th, 2009 at 10:12:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ManfromMiddletown:
culture is at heart, the why factor
Interesting insight. But why people believe is unobservable, whereas what people believe is observable.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 20th, 2009 at 10:18:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is you can change why people belief through the creation of ideas, particularly economic ideas?

Think about how Keynes was killed off, and replaced by Milton Friedman and the Chicago gang.

Ideology is an important source of power in modern societies.  

Control how people see the world, and you can coerce them into doing what you want without them knowing it......

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon Apr 20th, 2009 at 01:19:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ManfromMiddletown:
So for example various words like democracy and the like have the same shared meaning to Swiss people in the four national languages.  But, the meaning is not the same between Swiss German and Bavarian German.  

So shared meanings are defined by national boundaries and not by cultural/lingusitic ones?  Is there not a very overt nationalism or at least nation state bias in this approach?

One could argue that Irish middle class values are closer to British middle class values than they are to working class values.  So what is the relevance of the "national" boundary?  Of course subjective statements like that are subject to hypothesising and testing, and may actually be untrue.  But what I am objecting to is the a priori nation state focus of the methodology.  Why not test by class, age group, occupational grouping, public/private sector, as well nas nationality, and see which (somewhat artificially defined) factor is the most important, rather than assuming that the nation state is some sort of ahistorical and pre-created given.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Apr 20th, 2009 at 07:01:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
So shared meanings are defined by national boundaries and not by cultural/lingusitic ones?
MfM's point is that there are ways in which, say, Swiss German culture is more similar to that of the other Swiss linguistic communities than it is to other German-speaking communities in other countries.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 20th, 2009 at 07:05:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not arguing that national boundaries are not a factor, merely that you cannot presume, a priori, that they are a given, or the most important factor.  It seems logical that the citizen's of (say) Geneva - a cosmopolitan/international city will have more in common with each other (whether German/French or other mother tongue speaking - than they would have with a rural village in Bavaria, or even a (somewhat) comparable city like Munich. The more interesting/explanatory analysis may be by religious/non-religious background, age group, rural/urban, class, occupation, education level, linguistic abilities etc.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Apr 20th, 2009 at 07:30:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
I'm not arguing that national boundaries are not a factor, merely that you cannot presume, a priori, that they are a given, or the most important factor.

...

The more interesting/explanatory analysis may be by religious/non-religious background, age group, rural/urban, class, occupation, education level, linguistic abilities etc.

The question of explanatory power is presumably an empirical question, unlike the question of what is "more interesting".

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 20th, 2009 at 09:27:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So shared meanings are defined by national boundaries and not by cultural/lingusitic ones?  Is there not a very overt nationalism or at least nation state bias in this approach?

Not necessarily. That example relates to political concepts, which are intimately tied to the nation/state, but the in group/ out group can be put together entirely differently.

For example, a religious group group can have an understanding of salvation that cross national borders, but is incomprehensible to people who aren't members of that religious group.  For example, predestination versus good works.  

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon Apr 20th, 2009 at 10:04:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You beat me to it.. the problem is not math (maths is generally correct if it is done by someon who knows).

To make a synthesis of both perception...Culture is a sum of attitudes which give you a plying field, so to speak. It is a playing field of common symbolic objects with a  set of particular players which give new meaning and redifine the playing field.

Exploring the playing field is tough... doinbg it with a survey... probably impossible...

I repeat again Man point...indudually you can not get the playing field of symbolic options...

It is like trying to understand soccer by just looking only at how the legs of a player move... tough...

You at least need to check how the players move so as to know what are the rules of the game.

Most anthropologists prefer the option of "playing the game".. this is.. trying to live among the group of people you are interested in and record them at the same time.

Anf I finish my metaphors here....:)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Apr 21st, 2009 at 11:31:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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