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Measuring Meaning Structures

John W. Mohr
Annual Review of Sociology
Vol. 24 (1998), pp. 345-370
Published by: Annual Reviews
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/223485
Page Count: 26
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Measuring Meaning Structures
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Abstract

The recent cultural turn in American sociology has inspired a number of more scientifically oriented scholars to study the meanings that are embedded within institutions, practices, and cultural artifacts. I focus here on research that (a) emphasizes institutional (rather than individual) meanings, (b) uses a structural approach to interpretation, and (c) employs formal algorithms or quantitative procedures for reducing the complexity of meanings to simpler structural principles. I discuss two core methodological issues-the assessment of similarities and differences between items in a cultural system and the process by which structure-preserving simplifications are found in the data. I also highlight the importance of two-mode analytic procedures and I review some of the perceived benefits and criticisms of this style of research.

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