African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 382

Review

Cultural theory elaborations without predictive utility

Richard Amoako Baah
  • Richard Amoako Baah
  • Department of History and Political Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana.
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Dramani Aminu
  • Dramani Aminu
  • Department of History and Political Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana.
  • Google Scholar
Mohammed Abass
  • Mohammed Abass
  • Department of History and Political Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana.
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  •  Received: 06 December 2012
  •  Accepted: 20 January 2015
  •  Published: 28 February 2015

Abstract

There is no single work that has stirred the debate about cultural theory in social science than Aaron Wildavsky’s “Choosing Preferences by Constructing Institutions: A Cultural Theory of Preference Formation”. Anthropologists’ use of culture as an explanatory tool is quite acceptable because they (anthropologists) usually seek to describe what has been observed by using history, artifacts, language, lineage, etc. to link the past to the present. Explanations based on anthropological descriptions do not demand the rigorous proof required to establish causality in social science. They are largely informed assumptions based on one or several of the anthropological tools mentioned above. This paper examines Wildavsky’s work on cultural theory to show the inadequacies in the use of the theory to establish causality and predictability in social science. The paper concludes that when social scientists attempt to use culture to establish causality, we lose the scientific boundary that sharpens our focus and orders the scope of the inquiry, and also eliminates the standard of rigor established in the field.

 

Key words: Culture, theory, elaborations, predictive preferences, endogenous, exogenous, inferences, constructing, utility.