Some questions about Grid-Group Cultural Theory

Here’s some provocative questions about Cultural Theory from Y.  Before I attempt an answer, I wonder if anyone else reading this has an opinion or comment…

1. is the theory considered to be a post modern one?

2. does it have prestige in the academic world or is considered niche theory?

3. do you think that online/virtual communities on the internet can also be classified according to the grid group (like wikipedia, linkedin etc)?

Any thoughts?


2 thoughts on “Some questions about Grid-Group Cultural Theory

  1. 1. I hope not…

    2. Generally unknown; viewed with skepticism generally

    3. Sure, but not by criteria that are reliable & valid (i.e., ones that others could apply consistently & that admit of measurement suitable for testing hypotheses)

    Answers 2 & 3 are very much related

  2. I think I was clipped to point of being flip…

    On 2: It’s pretty clear that mainstream political science, e.g., does *not* take culture theory very seriously. This is about 30% fault of mainstream, in my view, and about 70% the fault of CT writers for failing to make sufficient effort to connect to mainstream conversations by showing those involved what CT can add. Exception would be Perri 6, who does great work on institutional dynamics & is also very thoughtful about methods & mechanisms, & Hank Jenkins-Smith, who is following through on Wildavsky’s idea that GG explains formation of policy preferences.

    In the study of risk perception, I think CT ideas & concepts are reasonably prominent. But this is so only for work using reliable & valid forms of empirical methods to test CT. There is a lot of writing on risk issues that uses CT for idiosyncratic & ad hoc story telling. Ones that purport to see worldviews in “institutions” rather than people, in particular, tend not to get much attention b/c of the ill-specified & mysterious account of mechanisms. Douglas & Wildavsky were aware of and fought to overcome resistance to functionalist theorizing; their descendants just ignore this matter & so are ignored.

    On 3: my answer reflects response to 2. Works that classify organizations using GG tend to be very impressionistic, undisciplined, indeed, insusceptible of testing. There *are* actually lots of interesting, methodologically & conceptually coherent analyses that assess relationship between group ideology & structure of on-line activities. See, e.g., Shaw, A. & Benkler, Y. A Tale of Two Blogospheres. American Behavioral Scientist 56, 459-487 (2012). (Perri 6 also has a very good book on “e-governance”: 6, P. E-governance : styles of political judgement in the information age polity, (Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hawpshire; New York, 2004)). Group-grid might make nice contribution here but only if researchers develop reliable & valid criteria for classification & explain what GG so conceived can do that alternatives can’t (something that researchers using empirical methods to apply CT to risk perceptions *have* been mindful to do).

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