9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN07 Sociology of Culture

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Quantitative Modelling of Cultural Phenomena Building II, C4.07

A tool of analysis for investigating cultures in an inter-cultural and trans-cultural perspective: towards a reflexive sociology of culture

The paper proposes a methodological tool that, though a quantitative and extensive one, may foster a reflexive comprehension of culture in an intercultural and trans-cultural perspective. By creating a system of (inter)cultural indexes that may check and measure those latent factors of culture that influence observed attitudes towards cultural differences in current multi-ethnic and multi-cultural societies, such a model of analysis casts a new light upon hidden paradygms of culture and proposes a new methodological approach to cultural differences, that may contribute to the development of a reflexive sociology, what Beck calls 'a reflexive cosmpolitism' (Beck 2007). In particular, this paper refers of a research carried out in the Italian region Valle d'Aosta (Onorati - Bracciale 2007, Onorati - d'Ovidio 2008) that, in the wake of Triandis's analysis of individualism/collectivism (Triandis 1995) and Hofstede's studies on cultural variability (Hofstede 2001 and 2003), worked at the construction of a system of indicators that may bring to the light - in an intercultural and transcultural (e.g. comparative) perspective - the cultural changes within those socio-cultural contexts more and more characterized by individuals' increased mobility and cross-cultural phenomena.
The proposed model starts from constructing indicators of cultural variability largely based on Hofstede's indexes of power distance, indivdualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance and, through them, explores the attitudes towards cultural differences in everyday life in a representative sample of population (both autoctonous and alloctonous) by checking their agreement/disagreement, preference, perceptions about some 'interculturally sensitive' behaviours and believs. Than, through a causal factorial model, this analysis focuses on (and measure) the latent cultural factors that influence the explored behaviours and thereby highlights the 'hidden paradygms' (Hall, 1968) that underlie the investigated culture, their weight in influencing the value orientation towards differences and eventual processes of intercultural accomodation in action. By treating these hidden paradygms as invariant latent patterns of any culture, this analysis lends itself to comparisons among different cultures, thus fostering a reflexive (self-aware) and trans-cultural approach to cultural complexity (Beck 2006, Beck-Giddens-Lash 1994).