chapter  3
19 Pages

GIVING THE GRID/GROUP DIMENSIONS AN OPERATIONAL DEFINITION James Hampton

Some may consider any attempt to measure the dimensions of grid and group in quantitative terms to be ill-considered. It is easy for the finer insights and subtler elements of a theory such as this one to be lost or blunted in the process of pressing them into the mould of empirical methodology. All too often, claims to have disproved a theory are based on empirical predictions derived on the basis of naive and literal interpretations. This state of affairs is particularly likely to occur where the original statement of the theory employs figurative and abstract language, and has been largely developed as an interpretative tool for making sense of otherwise meaningless collections of data. In this light, a parallel can be drawn between grid/group analysis and the psychodynamic theories of Freud and the post-Freudians. In both cases new concepts are defined which can bring sense to a bewildering variety of observations (on the one hand cultural and social diversity, and on the other the great variety of normal and pathological mental states involving symbolic meanings). In both cases the richness of the theory can make it difficult to derive critical empirical predictions without making simplifying assumptions. In spite of such objections, the development of an empirical test of the theory of grid/group analysis can be defended on a number of grounds. First, there is the need to satisfy the world of empirical science that the theory is in fact a scientific theory, saying something about the external world, and with testable consequences. If conducted with a proper regard for the inadequacies of existing measuring techniques in the social sciences, and with a sympathetic understanding of the dangers of not doing justice to the theory and its-insights, an empirical test can be of value, and its results enable the theory to be developed or modified further. The second reason for pursuing this endeavour is that regardless of whether or not the results of the test may be believed, or may be subject to serious methodological criticism, the very process of expressing the theory in empirical terms can force the researcher to sharpen the theoretical concepts involved and to make them more explicit. In particular, attention becomes focused on various parts of the theory which are as yet unspecified, but for which answers must be found. It is to such problems as

these that the final section of this paper will turn. First, however, the method used and the results obtained will be presented.