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PERILS OF PARSIMONY

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Continuing investigation of the relationships between information and communication technologies and human societies calls for the exploration of the ways in which human cultures shape and are shaped by technological development. This paper discusses the problematic invocation, in this arena, of Hofstede's model of 'national culture' (and similar models developed in a functionalist paradigm) to classify peoples. It briefly surveys critiques of Hofstede's research method, but focuses on the dangers of attempting to develop models of culture within a functionalist paradigm. Although such models may be parsimonious and rapidly applied, this paper argues that they are a poor fit for investigations of the dynamic and reciprocal interactions between human cultures and technology. Instead, it is argued here that we must abandon the functionalist paradigm and embrace methodologies that permit meaningful explorations of the multiple and dynamic conditions influencing the field of cultural practices in human societies. The merits of articulation as theory and method are discussed, and Hacking's theory of dynamic nominalism is offered as an example.
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Keywords: Hofstede; articulation; culture; dynamic nominalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Science Centre for Learning and Teaching, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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