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Good question. There's where history applies. It's not to say there aren't anomalies in the data, I'd be amazed if there weren't, however as far as Israel goes, I'd speculate that the values they largely reflect derive from the split from the areas of Eastern Europe where most settlers came from a century ago.

Mere speculation on my part. Of course their definitions, the structure of the questionaires, their basic assumptions color the study, however it's important to stress that the positions on the cultural map are hardly static. The authors point out that any tendency towards rationality can be put into reverse. Their point is that it tends to correlate to economic conditions and their place in the human development sequence (agrarian/industrial/post-industrial).

Having said that, the data explains lots and nothing at all at the same time. For instance, I might have expected that the impulse to entrepreneurship to be exaggerated in self-expressive societies, but I happen to know that in the US, immigrant communities (whether from poorer Asian or Latin America countries) are exactly as entrepreneurial as better educated, richer, North Americans.

One of the things Inglehart and Welzel postulated was that the study might have value even if complex societal values constructs could be reduced to these two scales. Of course nuance is sacrificed. Any study acccurately reflecting the true complexities in the world would reult in a replica of the world, and be totally useless.

The value derived from a study like this, I think, tends to lie in areas where societies intersect and communication, with all the promise of the mixing as well as all the risk of misunderstanding, occurs.

Public diplomacy. International relations. Cross-cultural exchange.

Nowhere in the study do the researchers make judgements about the values they describe. I would go further than they, and speculate that the irrational faith in the "American ideal" is largely what keeps the polyglot of nationalities and regional identities from flying apart.

I credit the authors with finding a valuable line of inquiry - one that should be explored further.

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

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sun Apr 19th, 2009 at 09:07:44 PM EST
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