what do you mean by cultural styles? As a qualitative researcher, that caught my eye! Thanks.
A commenter recently posed this question in connection with a post from a while back. I thought the question was interesting enough, and the likelihood that others would see it or my response sufficiently remote, that I should give my answer in a new post, which I hope might prompt reflection from others.
But basically, we can see that on disputed risk issues, positions are not distributed randomly but instead correlated with reocognizable but not directly observable ("latent") group affinities that are themselves associated loosely with a package of individual characteristics and attitudes.
People who share particular group affiniteis, moreover, form clusters of positions across these issues ("earth not heating up" & "concealed carry laws reduce crime"; "the death penalty doesn't deter murder" & "nuclear wastes can't be stored safety in deep geologic isolation") that can't possibly reflect links in the causal mechanisms involved and instead seem to reflect the identity-expressing equivalence of them.
The point of coming up w/ scales is to sharpen our perception of what these group affinities are & why those who share them see things the way they do -- to explain what's going on, in other words -- & also to enhance our power to predict and form prescriptions.
The term "cultural style" is, for me, a way to describe these affinities. I have adapted it from Gusfield. I & collaborators use the concept and say more about it and how it relates to Gusfield in various places.
“Unlike groups such as religious and ethnic communities[,] they have no church, no political unit, and no associational units which explicitly defend their interests,” but are nevertheless affiliated, in their own self-understandings and in the views of others, by largely convergent worldviews and by common commitments to salient political agendas.
furnish coherent norms for granting and withholding esteem. "Examples of these are cultural generations, such as the traditional and the modern; characterological types, such as 'inner-directed and other-directed'; and reference orientations, such as 'cosmopolitans and locals.'" Many of the most charged social and political issues of the past century can be understood as conflicts between individuals who identify with competing cultural styles and who see their status as bound up with the currency of those styles in society at large.
Dan M. Kahan, The Secret Ambition of Deterrence, 113 Harv. L. Rev. 413, 442 (1999) (quoting Gusfield, who is himself quoting David Reisman, Karl Mannheim & C. Wright Mills-- yow! right after the quoted section, Gusfield discusses as an example Hofstadter's famous "Mugwump style").
BTW, I regard Gusfield as one of the most brilliant social theorists of our time. It is sad that he is not even more famous. But I suppose lucky, too, for me b/c it means I am able to play a more meaningful role in scholarly discussions by virtue of others not having the advantage of the perspective & insight that comes from reading Gusfield!
I like "cultural style" b/c it helps to reinforce that the orientation in question is relatively loose-- we are talking about a style here; not the sort of fine grained, highly particular set of practices & norms that, say, an anthropologist or sociologist might have in mind as "culture" -- and also general -- a "style" doesn't reduce in some analytic sense to a set of necessary & sufficient conditions; it is a prototype.
You say you are a qualitative researcher. I take it then that you regard me as a "quantitative" one. Fair enough.
But in fact, I see myself as just a researcher-- or simply a scholar. I want to understand things, and also to add to scholarly conversation by others who are interested in the same things as a way to reciprocate what I have learned from them.
To do that -- to learn; to add -- I figure out the method most suited to investigating questions of interest to me and invest the effort necessary to be able to use that method properly. Then I just get to it.
Any scholar who thinks that the methods he or she has learned should forever determine the questions he or she should answer rather than vice versa will, at best, soon become boring and, at worst, ultimately become absurd.
Actually, all valid methods, I'm convinced, are empirical in nature, since I don't believe one can actually know anything without being able to make observations that enable valid inferences to be drawn that furnish more reason to credit one account of a phenomenon than another (pending more of the same sorts of evidence, etc.).
I have found the sort of empirical methods that figure in the cultural cognition work very useful for this. And those methods, moreover, have evolved and been refined in various ways to try to meet challenges that we face in seeking to learn/add in the professional student way.
But in fact, I believe that the sorts of ethnographic, historical and related methods that figure in anthropological and sociological accounts and the fact-rich social theorizing that Gusfield has done to be very valid as well.
Indeed, there are few if any hypotheses that we have tested with the sorts of quantitative methods that figure in our cultural cognition work that aren't rooted in insights reflected in these more "qualitative" works.
Gusfield's account of the styles that contended over the issue of temperance--which he identifies as the same ones in conflict over various other issues, including many involving criminal deviancy laws, drunk driving laws, anti-smoking laws, and other forms of risk regulation--is a source of inspiration for many of our conjectures, as I've indicated.
So is the work of Kristin Luker, whose understanding of the competing egaltiarian & hierarchic styles that impel conflict among women over abortion figured in our study of the white male effect and later in a study that I did of cultural contestation over rape law.
But there are many many other works of this sort that motivate & discipline our studies.
The disciplining consists in the fit between our study results and these accounts. That correspondence helps to make the case that we really are measuring what we say we are measuring-- or modeling what we say we are modeling.
At the same time, our results give more reason to believe that the qualitative accounts are valid.
For any "qualitative style" (as it were) of empirical investigation, the issue of whether the researcher's own expectations shaped his or her observations rather than vice versa always looms menacingly overhead like a raised sword.
That we are able to build a simple empirical model that displays the characteristics--produces the results-- one would expect if the qualitative researcher's explanation of what's going on is true helps to shield the researcher from this sort of doubt. I hope qualitiative researchers find value in that!
I am, of course, talking about the idea of convergent validity.
Every empirical method has limits that are in part compensated for by others. When different approaches all generate the same result, there is more reason to believe not only that that what they are finding is true but that each of the individual approaches used to establish that finding were up to the job.
It's possible that a bunch of imperfect methods (the limitations of which are independent of one another) just all happened to generate the same result. But the more likely explanation is that they converged because they were in fact all managaing to get a decent-sized piece of the truth.
Would you like a more "Bayesian" analogy of how convergent validity validates?
You find something that looks a puzzle piece but aren't sure whether it is. I find something that looks like a nearly complete puzzle--but also am unsure. If we meet and discover that the former happens to fit into and seemingly complete the latter, you will have more reason for believing that the putative "puzzle piece" is in fact a puzzle piece. At the same time, I will have more reason for believing that my putative "incomplete puzzle" is truly an incomplete puzzle. That's because the probability that a thing that isn't a puzzle piece would just happen to fit into a thing that isn't an incomplete puzzle is lower than the probability that the two things truly are "a puzzle piece" and "an incomplete puzzle" respectively.
To me convergent validity is the "gold standard." Or better the remedy for the sort of "gold standard" mentality that manifests itself in a chauvinistic insistence that there is only one genuinely valid one or even a single "best" for empirical investigation of social phenomena.
... Well, I am curious how this strikes you.
Useful? Eclectic? Confused?!