Please help with the Fourcultures FAQ!

It’s high time this site, and the world of grid-group cultural theory, had a FAQ – a list of frequently asked questions online. SO now’s the chance to help build one.

Please visit  the new FAQ creation page to:

  • submit your questions,
  • view what others have already asked and
  • vote the best ones up the charts.
  • (Or you could just leave a comment below)


The FAQ creator uses Google’s ‘moderator’ poll service, and this request also gives you the chance to check it out.

Leave your mark on the FAQ!


She’s a model and she’s looking good, or how to spot a model that actually works

Tom Quirk has an article in right of centre magazine Quadrant pouring cold water on climate change modelling by arguing that, after all, it’s just a model.

I think there’s some sense in this, if only it wasn’t being said by people who are just looking for another reason to tell us climate change mitigation is costly for rich people everyone. Junk in, junk out, right? But let’s take the argument a bit further than that. Indeed, what else could usefully be described as ‘just a model’? Continue reading “She’s a model and she’s looking good, or how to spot a model that actually works”

On Earth Day, here’s how to make Earth Hour last all year

Earth Hour – it’s been three weeks and I’m missing it already. I’d like it to last all year. So thank goodness for Earth Day, now showing at  a day near you.  I actually wrote this with the lights off during Earth Hour, but I lost it in the dark. Better late than never, I found it, so here it is. Continue reading “On Earth Day, here’s how to make Earth Hour last all year”

Four Ways to Make Social Change Work Better: The Transition Movement and the Four Cultures

Transition actually looked like a good tool for the job. They were picking it up by whatever handle they grasped. They were swinging it as earnestly as they could.’ – Jon Mooallem, NY Times

The Transition Movement, a grassroots coalition pioneered in the UK by Rob Hopkins, is a great case study for understanding and improving the process of social change. In this article I aim to clarify the microdynamics of social change by using Grid-Group Cultural Theory (the four cultures) as an analytic tool. The theory, first developed by anthropologist Mary Douglas, suggests there are four competing ways of organising and disorganising society, at every level, and that a balance between these makes for a better outcome than an exclusive over-emphasis on one or another of them. Most social activists recognise a basic conflict in social-political visions between, broadly, left and right, conservative and liberal. The four cultures shows that there are actually four basic positions, not two, and that social interaction is much more intelligible when we take all four into account.

It’s my conviction that the Four Cultures approach can help social change agents ‘to bring in the people that conventional activists have failed to reach’, by showing how to be more inclusive while also becoming more focussed on what kinds of inclusion really matter. Continue reading “Four Ways to Make Social Change Work Better: The Transition Movement and the Four Cultures”

A Month of Resilience

This month Four Cultures is going to be considering Resilience and its connection with Grid-group Cultural Theory.

By Resilience I mean the cross-disciplinary scientific approach inspired by the work of Canadian ecologist Buzz Holling, and promoted in a number of places, especially through the Resilience Alliance and through the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

There’s a video of him from his award of the Volvo Environment Prize in November 2008.