Investigating Culture in War

in Why War?

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780226763880
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226763910 | DOI:
Investigating Culture in War

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Realizing that war talk is always a case of new wine in old bottles takes us a step away from relativism, subjectivism, and the fetishization of the uniqueness of each setting toward a deductive and generalizable theory of what culture might look like and how it works in crisis situations. Accordingly, we need a methodological approach that engages with interpretation but does so in a way that is consistent with norms of what we might think of as hypothesis testing. The conduct of social scientific research has traditionally entailed trade-offs between these poles. There are long-acknowledged tensions between specificity and generality of focus, between the refinements of interpretative sensibilities and the brisk satisfactions of closure and accountability that can come from the embrace of the science model. This chapter maps out an approach that can respect each of these contending paths to understanding. It also exercises some of the other old war horses from the battle lines of the Methodenstreit: the problematic dualism separating structural and agentic models of culture.

Keywords: war culture; methodological approach; hypothesis testing; science model; models of culture; subjectivism

Chapter.  9552 words. 

Subjects: Military History

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