What Does Grid System Mean In Social Studies?


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Jason Schwarzmann Profile
When asking 'what does grid system mean in social studies', you may be referring to the 'Cultural Theory of Risk', which is often described in amongst a grid analogy. I shall attempt to explain the Culture Theory of Risk:

The Cultural Theory of risk is often referred to its simpler title as Cultural Theory, and is made up of a conceptual framework and its subsequent associated bodies of texts and empirical studies that set out to define the societal conflict over risk. Other theories of risk may give cognitive and economic factors in their reasons, but Cultural Theory stands firm on its ideas that structures of organizations endow certain individuals with perceptions that reinforce those structures in competition again alternative ones.

The theory was originally devised by anthropologist Mary Douglas and political scientists Aaron Wildavsky. It has given rise to a largely diverse set of researching programs that cross over to multiple social science disciplines, that have even in recent years have been used to analyze policymaking conflicts generally.

There are two main features of Douglas's work that inform and compliment the wholly basic structure of Cultural Theory. Firstly, a general account of the function in society of individual perceptions of social dangers. She maintained that individuals tend to put societal harms - anything from sickness to natural catastrophes to famine - with certain specific conducts that transgress societal norms. She argued strongly that this tendency played a wholly indispensable role in promoting certain structures socially, as they both imbued subversive behaviors to aversions of society members, and by focusing resentment and blame on those who defy the institutions.

Secondly, a particular account of the forms that competing structures of social organization assume. She again maintained that affiliated outlooks and cultural ways of life can be fairly easily characterized along one of two dimensions, which she called 'group' of 'grid'. To explain this further, a 'high group' way of living tends to exhibit a high degree of group collective control, whereas 'low groups' hold a much lower one, which leads in most cases to an emphasis on self-sufficiency individually. 'High grids' ways of life are characterized by durable yet conspicuous forms of stratification in authority and roles, but 'low grids' offer a more egalitarian ordering.

These two important points were developed in Douglas's earlier work, but the two strands of her thought were first consciously woven together to form the basic fabric foundation of a theory of risk perception in her and Wildavsky's 1982 book, 'Risk and Culture: An Essay on the Selection of Technical and Environmental Dangers'.

This book focused largely on the at the time current politically charged conflicts over air pollution and nuclear power in the United States, and attributed political conflict over environmental and technological risks to a struggle between adherents of competing ways of life associated with the group-grid scheme. An egalitarian collectivist low grid/high group one will gravitates towards the fear of an environmental disaster as its justification for restricting commercial behaviors productive on vast inequalities. Individualistic/hierarchical low group/high grid ones will resist ultimate claims of environmental risk, on the behalf of the private orderings they wish to shield from interference, and to defend the established governmental and commercial elites from subversive rebuke.

Works to come late in Cultural Theory, set out to systematize these arguments. Group-grid gives rise to between four and five discrete ways of life in these accounts, of which each is associated with a view of nature (capricious, fragile, robust, etc...) which is congenial to its advancement in competition with the others.

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