Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Elusive Concept Map

I didn't get as much time to think about the concept map that Ian and I were working on earlier today as I had hoped. I thought perhaps I'd have some epiphany while helping Zack and Jenn move, but nothing magically came to mind.

That isn't to say, however, that I haven't given it any thought. What I've come up with so far is that we're either missing some key piece to the puzzle and/or we've become confused somewhere in our definitions and assumptions.

From what I recall of our conversation, we were trying figure out the connections between: our tight/loose conception of groups; theological constructs that support tightness and looseness; the environmental contexts in which these constructs play out; and how these all play parts in differential success of groups. Somewhere in all this we tried to squeeze in demographic variables, too.

It seems to me that we need to sort out a few things before we can hope to put all these pieces into place. For instance, how are we defining groups? Once defined, how narrowly or broadly are we going to conceptualize the environmental context in which groups operate? What exactly do we mean by differential success? I also wonder if Hodgson and Knudsen's framework might be useful to us here. Of course, it might not. After all, we started to approach the question of what the replicator in our map might be and rapidly changed the subject to whether or not the group was growing, shrinking or holding steady in terms of numbers of bodies. Nevertheless, bringing Hodgson and Knudsen's categories to the board might help us better understand our own. In addition to the replicator/interactor distinction, we might also want to consider things like how habits fit into the tight/loose distinction.

I don't know. These are just more or less random thoughts I wanted to get down before I fall asleep and forget them all. At this point I don't have any answers to the questions I'm raising. I just sense that we're missing something fundamental and I'm hopeful that looking at the whole mess from the ground up, piece by piece, might help us figure out why we're having such a hard time putting this all together.

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