Cultural Network Analysis: A Cognitive Approach to Cultural Modeling

Cultural Network Analysis: A Cognitive Approach to Cultural Modeling

Winston R. Sieck (Applied Research Associates, USA), Louise J. Rasmussen (Applied Research Associates, USA) and Paul Smart (University of Southampton, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-855-5.ch011
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Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to describe a rigorous, end-to-end methodology for modeling culture as networks of ideas that are distributed among members of a population. The method, Cultural Network Analysis (CNA), represents an interdisciplinary synthesis of techniques drawn from the fields of cognitive anthropology, cultural and cognitive psychology, naturalistic decision making, and decision analysis. CNA is used to develop cultural models for groups and populations, typically depicted as a network representation of the culturally shared concepts, causal beliefs, and values that influence key decisions. CNA can be usefully employed for a variety of applications, including the design of tools to support multinational collaborative planning and decision making, the development of situated cultural training programs, and characterizing the cognition of target audiences to support strategic communications campaigns.
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Culture As Distributions Of Knowledge

Within cognitive anthropology, culture is typically defined as involving shared knowledge. One specific theoretical approach to culture that characterizes culture in terms of knowledge is the epidemiological view. Here, “epidemiology” is used in the general sense of describing and explaining the statistical distributions of any property within a population. Cultural epidemiology regards culture in terms of the ideas that are widely distributed throughout a population (Sperber, 1996).

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