Archive for the ‘sociology’ Category

The World Values Survey

January 26, 2018

For a number of years, very interesting research in cultural studies has been produced by the World Values Survey. This survey measures the slippery notion of value as belonging to four types: Survival, Traditional, Self-Expression, and Secular-Rational.

Individual and social values are quantified, resulting in two pairs of value types that are independent, and for each pair, the two types are dependent and inversely proportional:

  • Survival values ⇔ Self-expression values
  • Secular-rational values ⇔ Traditional values

In other words, if survival values are high (say one), self-expression values are low (say zero), and if survival values are low, self-expression values are high. Similarly, secular-rational values are higher if traditional values are lower, etc. So a pair of numbers each between zero and one indicates how an individual or society considers the importance of these values.

These social values are measured and compared in countries around the world, resulting in the Inglehart-Welzel Cultural Map. This map is a scatter plot that clusters similar countries by value pairs, rather than geography. However, countries close in geography are also often fairly close as “value” neighbors on this cultural chart.

One might try to claim that self-expression values and secular-rational values are more “advanced” than survival and traditional values. As a culture obtains more material wealth they are less dependent on using resources for survival, and so can foster more self-expression. Then perhaps as self-expression grows and so independent thought, less dependence on or even tolerance of traditional values encourages increased secular-rational values. But that would be too easy!

Further Reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Values_Survey

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inglehart–Welzel_cultural_map_of_the_world

World Values Survey on Twitter:

[*9.170]

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The Fourfold Body

July 3, 2016

sq_tomb_templeAs an addendum to my previous post, I remembered the nice article below.

Anthony Synnott / Tomb, Temple, Machine and Self: The Social Construction of the Body, The British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 43, No. 1 (Mar., 1992), pp. 79-110

Abstract:

The body is socially constructed; and in this paper we explore the various and ever-changing constructions of the body, and thus of the embodied self, from the Greeks to the present. The one word, body, may therefore signify very different realities and perceptions of reality; and we consider briefly how and why these meanings changed.

Plato believed the body was a ‘tomb’, Paul said it was the ‘temple’ of the Holy Spirit, the Stoic philosopher Epictetus taught that it was a ‘corpse’. Christians believed, and believe, that the body is not only physical, but also spiritual and mystical,  and many believed it was an allegory of church, state and family. Some said it was cosmic: one with the planets and the constellations. Descartes wrote that the body is a ‘machine’, and this definition has underpinned bio-medicine to this day; but Sartre said that the body is the self.

In sum, the body has no intrinsic meaning. Populations create their own meanings, and thus their own bodies; but how they create, and then change them, and why, reflects the social body.

Also a book!

Anthony Synnott / The Body Social: symbolism, self, and society (1993)

[*6.142, *9.139]

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The Four Requisites of Randall Collins

November 16, 2015

sq_four_requisites2“Everything in the human world has four aspects” states sociologist Randall Collins, and I couldn’t agree more. For his view of sociology, these four aspects are the Social, the Political, the Cultural, and the Economic.

These four requisites are adapted from Talcott Parsons, who was Collins’ undergraduate teacher. Parsons’ four requisites were named differently, and together they are known as the “AGIL” model. “A” stood for Adaptation, “G” for Goal-attainment, “I” for Integration, and “L” for Latency. It was also called the Structural-Functional model of society. Besides the change in names, Collins also says that the functionalism inherent in Parsons’ model has been downplayed in his because a biological, functional approach cannot model conflict, which is pervasive in human interaction.

Collins wrote a book on the historical “sociology” of philosophies, “The Sociology of Philosophies”. This book was the reason I first noted Collins, but I haven’t studied the book in any detail to note if any fourness falls out of the analysis. This kind of historical and organizational model of philosophy seems to be popular, and several others have attempted to compile something similar.

Collins also wrote “Four Sociological Traditions”, a history of sociology organized around the development of four classic schools of thought: the conflict tradition of Marx and Weber, the ritual solidarity of Durkheim, the microinteractionist tradition of Mead, Blumer, and Garfinkel, and the utilitarian/rational choice tradition. This book was the second reason I noted Collins, but not having read the book, I wasn’t sure how to interpret these four schools as a four-fold.

References:

http://sociological-eye.blogspot.com/2015/07/four-requisites-for-success-or-failure.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randall_Collins

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talcott_Parsons

Books by Randall Collins:

Four Sociological Traditions

The Sociology of Philosophies : a global theory of intellectual change

Philosophical Family Trees:

The social networks theory of philosophy

http://kevinscharp.com/Kevin%20Scharp%20-%20%20Diagrams.htm

http://www.designandanalytics.com/visualizing-the-history-of-philosophy-as-a-social-network-the-problem-with-hegel

[*3.79, *4.6, *4.7, *9.7, *9.71]

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Grid-group Cultural Theory

December 8, 2014

sq_grid_group

Looking over some old notes, I ran across something about the Grid-Group Cultural Theory. Also known as the Cultural Theory of Risk, it originated from the studies of anthropologist Mary Douglas and political scientist Aaron Wildavsky. Two dimensions of sociality are described, each with a low and high value (or a continuum): grid measures the differentiation between people, and group measures the cohesion or social bonds between people.

Individualist: Low group and low grid
Fatalist: Low group and high grid
Hierarchist: High group and high grid
Egalitarian: High group and low gridsq_archic_philosophers

Notes:

In the representation shown above, this arrangement reminds me significantly of the Archic Philosophers.

Sophists for Individualist
Democritus for Fatalist
Plato for Hierarchist
Aristotle for Egalitarian

Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Theory_of_risk

http://changingminds.org/explanations/culture/grid-group_culture.htm

http://thebriefnote.com/2014/06/04/diagram-of-theory-douglas-and-wildavskys-gridgroup-typology-of-worldviews/

[*4.86, *8.112]

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