Four ways to measure culture: Social science, hermeneutics, and the cultural turn

Book Section

This article considers four of the ways in which measurement practices have been applied to create formal models of culture in the social sciences. It first examines the nature of formal measurement models in the social sciences and compares this mode of scholarship to more hermeneutic styles of research, paying attention to debates over method in the social sciences before and after the cultural turn. It then discusses four different types of formal (measurement) models that have been especially important to the cultural sciences over the last century: pre-cultural turn/non-hermeneutic, pre-cultural turn/hermeneutic, post-cultural turn/non-hermeneutic, and post-cultural turn/hermeneutic. It also cites an exemplar figure for each model, namely, Alfred Kroeber, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Paul DiMaggio, and Harrison White, respectively. Finally, it revisits the problem of how to conceptualize a scientific hermeneutics by comparing the theorization of the practice of data analysis to Paul Ricoeur’s theorization of the practice of text analysis.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Mohr, JW; Rawlings, C

Published Date

  • January 1, 2017

Book Title

  • The Oxford Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Start / End Page

  • 70 - 113

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780195377767

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195377767.013.4

Citation Source

  • Scopus