Culturometrics: A Constructionist Philosophy for Humanistic Inquiry in Qualitative Identity Research

By Boufoy-Bastick, Béatrice | The Qualitative Report, February 3, 2014 | Go to article overview

Culturometrics: A Constructionist Philosophy for Humanistic Inquiry in Qualitative Identity Research


Boufoy-Bastick, Béatrice, The Qualitative Report


Introduction

This paper introduces a novel Culturometric methodology first developed to investigate ethnic values in a four-year ethnographic study in Fiji (Boufoy-Bastick, 2002, p. 39; 2007, p. 10; 2010, p. 518; 2013, p. 53). Culturometrics is a novel approach to qualitative inquiry in cultural identity that aims to promote diversity through dynamics of cultural change for those who want to change and to support the maintenance of cultural stability for those who don't. Culturometrics is a set of postmodern, person-centered strategies that enable researchers to measure cultural identity components of individuals and of groups. The anchors of its bi-polar dimension of interest are change and stability. Hence, its processes are concerned with the fluidity of individual identities - as in the identity negotiations of Committed Communication (Boufoy-Bastick, 2012a, pp. xxi-xxix). To this end, Culturometrics operationally defines "cultural identity" as "values in context" and so offers measures of cultural identity that enable such changes to be identified and quantified. This paper gives a very brief derivation and overview of the Culturometric humanist methodology and presents two of the procedural Culturometric techniques, vis. network sampling and the "celebrity questionnaire."

Culturometrics: A constructionist philosophy for humanistic inquiry in Cultural Studies

What is Culturometrics?

Culturometrics is a humanist constructionist philosophy concerned with who we are and how we change (Boufoy-Bastick, 2012b, p. 78; 2013, p. 55; Floridi, 2011, p. 282; Gergen, 1994, p. 207; Kotarba & Fontana, 1987, p. 11, p. 49). Its orientation to scientific research is determinedly humanistic in reaching for the human fulfilment at the peak of Maslow's motivational pyramid of life's needs (Maslow, Frager & Fadiman, 1970). Within this ideological framework, Culturometrics offers measures of cultural identity that enable such changes to be identified and quantified so that associated causes and influences may be researched. By focusing on the flux and flow of cultural identity, Culturometrics makes this more tractable through its emphasis on the language of process rather than of object - as in its reframing of social constructs as cultural identities and in its definition of "cultural identity" being "values in context."

What does a Culturometric researcher do when they are conducting a culturometric study?

To explain simply what a culturometric researcher does in conducting a study, we briefly enumerate the four practical steps to be followed. The researcher:

(i) Frames the construct they want to measure in terms of cultural identity;

(ii) Uses the culturometric two-phase etic/emic social network sampling, explained below, to identify people who are emically high and emically low on that construct by using the Cultural Index (Boufoy-Bastick, 2002, 2007).

(iii) Identifies and measures the cultural index of individuals who are high and low on that construct by applying cultural index regulator;

(iv) Selects the highest and the lowest persons showing that cultural identity through the analysis of the Cultural Index and uses contrast interviewing to expound the emic meanings and contexts of the construct

Humanistic foundations of Culturometric research methodology

Culturometric methodology is anchored in humanistic principles as indicated above and has three coextensive aims guiding its congruence with this philosophical doctrine: (i) Empowering participants, (ii) Appreciating diversity and (iii) Enhancing potential for identity change or stability.

(i) Culturometrics promotes participant empowerment by employing research methods specifically designed to acknowledge each participant's authority to define who they are and the authority of their cultural group to authenticate their cultural identity.

(ii) Culturometrics promotes appreciation of diversity as a positive affirmation of acceptance which can be either personal or public. …

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