Will Cultural Analysis Become a Science?

Mark A Mattaini


In this paper, the author argues that the concept of the metacontingency is not yet well enough developed to be very scientifically useful, although developers like Glenn and Malott (2004) should be encouraged to pursue more thorough development. By contrast, systems theory which Malott and Glenn (2006) also emphasize, may have real and immediate utility in the analysis of cultural systems. In fact, systems theory suggests certain inherent limitations to the metacontingency construct as it is most commonly conceptualized, although alternative models may prove more intellectually coherent and useful. This paper argues that modest work emphasizing observational studies and relatively simple experimental efforts to influence networks of interlocking contingencies have greater promise at this point in the development of a natural science of cultural analysis than do continuing efforts to refine abstract conceptual schemes without grounding in data.


Applied cultural analysis, metacontingencies, interlocking cultural practices

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/bsi.v15i1.380

Published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Library

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