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D'Andrade's book on values is one of the most widely cited sources on cross-cultural comparative designs in different social sciences. The study is using a well thought-through sequential mixed design and relies on adequate sampling from three cultural groups. The finalized instrument contained 328 items that matches the requirements of the analytical procedures for the extraction of strong, interpretable dimensionality. The text is organized into ten chapters, that permit following the study step by step. Due to its impressive theoretical coverage and empirical depth, the influence of the study extends beyond the highly specialized research niche that anthropology reserves for the quantitative studies of enculturated ideas. This book is widely used among cross-cultural psychologists, cognitive scientists and sociologists focusing on values studies. The obvious appeal of this text is in its comprehensiveness, detailed cross-cultural comparison and robust findings. These are the qualities where most reviews of this text converge, and I humbly concur, but it is not where the most essential merit of this source lies. Cross-cultural values studies have a long multidisciplinary tradition. This line of research has generated a theoretically rich, conceptually confusing and methodologically complex literature (Rokeach, Kluckhohn, Hofstede, Schwartz, D'Andrade, Saucier...). Given the multitude and the dynamism of the theoretical and methodological perspectives (which are aptly articulated in D'Andrade's text - definitely a must-read if you wish to learn about the data-theory link), the intensive empirical research is bound to present us with new questions.Read more ›
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Values are an important aspect of culture, but have not been the subject of sustained enquiry in the social sciences. Here D'Andrade takes up a quantitative-based study of values among "Americans ..., Vietnamese refugees in the United States ..., and native-born Japanese, primarily living in Japan" (D'Andrade 2008:22).
D'Andrade acknowledges that using quantitative data from questionnaires to do a cross-cultural study of values has its limitations, but he argues that it has virtues too and our understanding of values is at such a stage where the contribution from such research would be important. His discussion of how his measures were constructed is also, as usual, thorough and forthright. Ditto his methods of analysis. Much can be learned from these two sections, and together they demonstrate the challenge of doing good quantitative research into cultural phenomenon. This is no simple ask-and-tally procedure.
Although there are some surprising findings -- for example, the Japanese appeared more like the Americans than the Vietnamese on the individualism versus collectivism dimension -- for D'Andrade and others working on the project the greater surprise seems to be that the value differences were so small. This leads him to conclude -- and I may be missing something here -- that the "values" of the questionnaire were too general; what counts as satisfaction of that value for a given person in a given instance is more informative.
I think that sums up the limitations of questionnaire research in a nutshell. It's why we do ethnography (if you're an anthropologist) -- although, as D'Andrade noted, that takes more time, money, resources, ...