9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN20 Qualitative Methods

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Innovative Analysis Building II, B2.01

The use of data suites for the analysis of global cultural trends

Session: ?The relationship between qualitative and quantitative research?

Traditionally, the starting point for many analyses of globalisation is the country level. This has recently been critizised as ?methodological nationalism? (e.g. Beck 2002), as the national focus may not be able to grasp current processes of globalisation adequately. Such global trends (Beck?s example is the world risk society; one could add the internet, migration etc.) become ever more important for developments in sociological theory.
Therefore, new units of analysis beyond the nation-state and better indicators may be needed. There is, however, a problem with missing data for alternative levels of analysis.

To circumvent these problems, we introduced the idea of data suites (Anheier 2007). The basic idea behind indicator suites is that indicators of different units of analysis, and even with incomplete data, can still be brought together in a thematic (not statistical) way, and generate insights about relevant aspects of the relationship between globalization and cultures. What unites indicators to form a thematic suite is not some statistical rationale but a conceptual, qualitative one.
In methodological terms, we are using (mostly) quantitative information in a (mostly) qualitative way. Indicator suites are a compromise in the sense that they take the inchoate and incomplete state of quantitative indicators as a given, at least for the medium term, while refusing to accept the interpretative limitations this state imposes on descriptive analysis.
The notion of indicator suites is informed by Tufte?s (2001) approach to the visual display of quantitative information.
We would like to discuss benefits and problems of this approach and assess its usefulness for analyses of the relationship between cultures and globalisation.?


Anheier, H. (2007). Introducing cultural indicator suites. In H. Anheier & Y.R. Isar (Ed.), Conflicts and Tension. The Cultures and Globalization Series, Vol. 1. (pp. 335-347). London: Sage.

Beck, U. (2002). Macht und Gegenmacht im globalen Zeitalter. Neue weltpolitische ├ľkonomie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Tufte, E. (2001). The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Cheshire, CT.: Graphics Press