Click for next page ( 128


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 127
4 Tnstitut:ions and CuTt:ures

OCR for page 127

OCR for page 127
4 Instit:utions and Cultures An many respects the preceding chapters may be regarded as moving from the more microscopic aspects of human existence to the more macroscopic. Chapter 1 emphasized research on individual thought and behavior, paying particular attention to biological and psychological determinants and mecha- nisms. Chapter 2 focused on motivational determinants and mechanisms in individual behavior, as well as research on the constraining and determining effects of social interaction and social arrangements with respect to behavior. Chapter 3 took up organizational arrangements, especially markets and polit- ical and occupational systems, and examined how information, incentives, and other features shape these arrangements. In this chapter we move further toward the macroscopic and consider re- search on institutions and cultures, which are those features of social life that serve as the bases of the organization and integration of entire societies. A1- though the analysis of institutions and cultures is associated primarily with the fields of sociology and anthropology, aspects of these phenomena also relate to and are found in the research of political scientists, historians, geographers, legal scholars, and economists as well. Research on institutions and cultures has long been an active field, and there is now a vast array of ongoing work. This chapter begins with the most basic questions of human beginnings: What have been the salient characteristics of human evolution that have led to that special type of social bonding that is described as human society? New archaeological studies as well as the com- 129

OCR for page 127
130 / The Behavioral and Social Sciences parative study of primate and human societies are now adding major insights on this central question in evolutionary theory. Another major field of study in this area is demographythe study of population dynamics as affected by fertility, mortality, and migration- and this chapter focuses on the institutional and cultural dimensions of both fertility, especially in developing societies, and migration, especially in the United States. One question has been the preoccupation of nearly two centuries of theo- retical thinking in the social sciences: How can the profound institutional transformations that have been associated with the great commercial, industrial, and democratic revolutions in modern Western history be understood and explained? In recent decades this question has been extended to include the study of developing nations as they struggle with change. Study of these insti- tutional transformations has gone under a number of labels, none of them completely satisfactory, but for purposes of convenience we will call it the study of modernization. Within this large and active field, the chapter focuses on the family and religion. It considers a range of research that has significantly altered understanding of how these institutions have changed and continue to change and what place and role they have in modern society. Science and technology have been among the key features of those institu- tional transformations and a subject of intense recent research: What cultural, institutional, and organizational features of society are essential for scientific knowledge to rise and grow? What are the conditions that determine whether scientific knowledge will be applied, that is, implemented as technology? And, then, what effect does technology have on communities and institutions and on the quality of life in general? These questions are studied both by historians of science and by other social scientists. The chapter also takes a look at the behavioral and social sciences themselves also the children of moderniza- tion- and on the relations between social science knowledge and public policy. Lastly, the chapter deals with the most macroscopic level of all, the world as a whole, where the stress is on systems of relations among societies. Some of the developing lines of research are on internationalization the increased economic, political, and cultural involvement of nations in one another's af- fairs and on the special and timely topics of international security and, more generally, cooperation and conflict among nations. THE EVOLUTION OF HUMAN SOCIETY Every society has developed beliefs about the origins of the world and the nature of things within it, including beliefs about human nature and society itself. Since written records are a relatively recent historical.phenomenon, the way in which society actually emerged lies in the realm of prehistory (prior to written records). But a wide range of scientific techniques are now making

OCR for page 127
I~t~udons and Culture / 13 I possible an increasingly complete narrative of origins based on the inte~re- tstion of material evidence. This evidence enables researchers to look back with increasing Doria to the world of thousands and mhbons of yeses ago sod to v~us~ze the evolution of humans sod human society. The outlines of that evolution can be divided into six stages: Time Period Developmental Stage Divergence of the hominid line Mom ARican apes Bergen 8 mObon and 4 miLion years ago By 4 mown Cam ago 2 an >~ ~ ~ 0.5 million yaw ago Between 50,000 and 30,000 years ago Between 10,000 and 5,000 years ago Evolution of bipedal gag Habitadon of ARican savannahs Larger than ape-sized brains ~ sat Cog Dutche~ marks on animal remans Wore than one species in the same region ~~-I~i~ec~ and =# Homo) More complex stone tools Spread into Topical and ~mpe~ce Eurasia Homo crackup, then archaic Coma so Loss of massive muscularity Emergence of ark technical ingenui~an "information explosion," including extensive styUsUc differentiation and change Probable increase in popubdon densities Spread to high Arcdc, Australia, and, later, the Americas Scull ~nsidon Sewed Adages and was Food storage, culOvabon, herding Get increases in population densities Accumulation of Reach, concentration of power The best Do stages saw the development of biological mechanisms similar to those governing the evolutional branching of many primate and mam- maban species. The test stage, involving the beginnings of Arming, finessed the appearance of populations with aL the distinctive mental socist and tech- nological potentisL of contemporary humans. The intervening stages, during which changes in biology, behavior, and culture occurred, are the subject of Lontier research on the dynamics of social change. Social Organization in Prebistoric limes Direct evidence on the social organization of early human groups ~ limbed, but some tentative conclusions can be drawn. Many archaeological shes dadug

OCR for page 127
132 / The Behavioral and Social Sciences from 2 million years ago to the beginnings of farming 10,000 years ago are of similar size, and they suggest the existence of day-to-day social groups usually of 10 to 30 individuals. Population densities over large areas were very low. The firmest early evidence of household or family units within sites dates from 3S,000 to 50,000 years ago. Signs of wider and more diversified networks also appeared at this time, as did evidence of long-distance exchange of items such as seashells and obsidian and other prized stones. This stage is also marked by evidence of gatherings at ritually important places, the development of regional stylistic traditions that reflect some kind of ethnic identity, and in- creases in the volume of organized information being generated and transmit- ted. In the 1960s, field investigations of nonhuman primates took some observed baboon societies as the model of early human society. In line with that model, the societies of human ancestors were depicted as hierarchial, with males being competitive and aggressive and females being passive and nurturers of the young. Subsequent primate field research has dispelled a number of these inferences: it has shown that primate behavior varies enormously, both within and among species, and that simple generalizations about sex differences in nurturance, social competitiveness, and passivity in females cannot be sus- tained. Contemporary field studies, for example, reveal that in various species, females compete as intensely as males and often actively choose their mates. At the same time, in some species, including baboons, males develop long- term bonds with females and participate in infant care. Along with new evidence and changing views on primate behavior, there are indications that major changes in human reproductive physiology may have occurred relatively recently. There is some evidence that Neanderthal females may have carried their fetuses to 11- or 12-month terms. Other evidence sug- gests that, about 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, when some humans became less nomadic, birth spacing was reduced, which, in turn, was a factor in causing the population increase associated with the beginnings of farming. With increased wealth in the form of investments in capital improvements to land, signs of warfare appear. The oldest archaeological evidence of organized armed warfare, as contrasted with incidental skirmishes, is a 12,000-year-old cemetery in the Nile Valley. Although signs of warfare follow rather than pre- cede the development of farming, fighting as such goes further back. Present- day monkeys and apes, especially males, fight, as do modern humans; and there is no reason to suppose that human ancestors were different. The question is rather one of scale, intensity, organization, and the use of weapons. Fieldwork on chimpanzees indicates that they may share with humans the dubious dis- tinction that organized coalitions of males engage in lethal intergroup aggres- sion to achieve territorial gains. Studies are needed to confirm the finding and to determine the evolutionary and social context of these patterns.

OCR for page 127
Institutions and Cultures / 133 Food, Tools, and Home Bases At some stage in evolution, humans joined the class of animals that do not simply consume food on the spot but carry it to central places, called home bases, where it is shared with the young and other adults. The use of home bases is a fundamental component of human social behavior; the common meal served at a common hearth is a powerful symbol, a mark of social unity. Home- base behavior does not occur among nonhuman primates and is rare among mammals. It is unclear when humans began to use home bases, what kind of communications and social relations were involved, and what the ecological and food choice contexts of the shift were. Work on early tools, surveys of paleoanthropological sites, development and testing of broad ecological theo- ries, and advances in comparative primatology are contributing to knowledge about this central chapter in human prehistory. One innovative approach is to investigate damage and wear on stone tools. Researchers make tools that replicate excavated specimens as closely as possible and try to use the tools~as the originals might have been used, such as wood- cutting, hunting, or cultivation. Depending on how the tool is used, charac- teristic chippage patterns and microscopically distinguishable polishes develop near the edges. The first application of this new method of analysis to stone tools that are 1.5 million- to 2 million-years-old indicates that, from the start, an important function of early stone tools was to extract high quality food- meat and marrow from large animal carcasses. Some of the earliest tools were also used for shaping wood and for making digging sticks and spears. Fossil bones with cutmarks caused by stone tools have been discovered lying in the same 2-million-year-old layers that yielded the oldest such tools and the oldest hominid specimens (including humans) with larger than ape-sized brains. This discovery increases scientists' certainty about when human ancestors began to eat more meat than do present-day nonhuman primates. But several questions are still unanswered questions: How frequently did meat-eating occur? To what degree was meat acquired more by scavenging than hunting? What were the social implications of meat-eating patterns? New analyses of animal remains from the stone age are now under way. An important question to be addressed by field studies is how the feeding, ranging, and social interaction patterns of human beings who acquired food by hunting and gathering compare with those of primates and nonhuman carnivores. Some studies need to span the life cycle of identified individual animals, particularly of apes and other species for which there is evidence of repeated strategies and accumulated experience that amount to a protoculture. Until recently few such studies were undertaken, and they were qualitative. Now optimal foraging theory and other rigorous conceptual frameworks are

OCR for page 127
134 / The Behavioral and Social Sciences being used in gathering data on the properties of nonagricultural human and primate foods, notably their spatial and seasonal distribution, associated ac- quisition and processing costs, energy and nutrient returns, and problems caused by toxins and secondary compounds. A few exploratory field projects have begun on wild tubers, meat and fat in scavenged carcasses, and such problems as coping with tannins and their effects on food choice. Of related interest are claims that control over fire may go back 1.5 million years, much earlier than commonly thought; fire control had definite implications for food selection and gathering behavior. The very existence of extended human social systems may have been determined by the ways prehistoric people learned to exploit widely dispersed, high-quality, portable food productsmeat, marrow, large tubers, and, much later, grain. Evolution of Language Language, the most important component of culture, is also the most difficult subject to study in art evolutionary framework because there are no living protolanguages and speech does not fossilize. The initial stages of brain expansion and stone-tool manufacture, both suggestive of language facility, began about 2 million years ago. But there is also some evidence of a relatively recent change in the structure of the human vocal tract. This change coincides with the loss of muscularity that distinguishes anatomically modern humans, with modern-size brains, from the Neanderthals whom they replaced about 30,000 years ago. Further assessment of this biological history, including a more thorough investigation both of vocal tract anatomy and brain structure, is needed. The social and ecological factors that gave rise to the evolution of language are unclear. Competing hypotheses about what made language-like commu- nication useful range from considerations of foraging strategy to problems of mating and infant care. Information sharing could have played a critical role in organizing home-based foraging, in cooperative hunting, in resolving inter- group conflict, and even in maintaining stable mating and provisioning rela- tionships between pair-bonded mates, as well as between different mating groups. These and other hypotheses can only be tested by pursuing archaeo- logical evidence on dwelling and foraging patterns (for example, home bases and tool caches) and integrating these findings with more thorough observa- tional studies of the dwelling and foraging strategies of modern foraging peoples and other primate species. The study of language origins places strong demands on the capacity of scientists to integrate paleontological, neurological, ecolog- ical, and behavioral studies into a coherent picture and, to put together the results of biological and historical field methods, laboratory analyses of material gathered by radioisotopic or microscopic instruments, data from experimental techniques, and well-articulated theories of behavior in the wild.

OCR for page 127
Institutions and Cultures / 135 But modern methods can only illuminate the past if there are systematic and well-preserved artifacts available for study. There is a compelling need to pro- tect museum-based research collections against physical deterioration and dis- persal and to cultivate international arrangements for scholarly access to world- wide observational and archaeological field sites. DEMOGRAPHIC BEHAVIOR In one sense demography is the study of phenomena that are primarily biological, such as fertility and mortality, which in the aggregate can be analyzed with sophisticated mathematical models and statistical techniques. Yet these phenomena cannot be understood simply as biological processes because they are strongly influenced by social and cultural factors. The major task in studying demographic behavior is to unravel and analyze the complex of causes behind rates of fertility, marriage, migration, morbidity, and mortality. This task calls for a variety of sources of information, including official demographic records and surveys, fine-grained observations in field situations, and careful sifting and analysis of historical records. In this empirical work it has been important to compare detailed data from surveys with theoretical and mathematical work and to compare cross-sectional information from such surveys with personal and institutional longitudinal data. Future understanding will depend largely on multifaceted and sustained research efforts, especially in regions of Africa and Asia where cultures and institutions very different from those in the United States present the greatest challenges to understanding the dynamics of de- mography. Fertility and Lactation Unlike animals, humans control reproduction (directly or indirectly) through cultural mechanisms, such as celibacy outside marriage and abstinence within it. Prolonged breastfeeding is another instance of this kind of control. The physiological effects of breastfeeding are now well understood: the mechanical stimulation of an infant's suckling triggers hormonal mechanisms that delay the mother's return to normal fertility. Complex simulations and statistical analyses of these physiological processes have increased the precision of knowl- edge as to how this effect varies according to the frequency, intensity, and duration of breastfeedingwhich are determined by cultural forces. Those forces, manifested mainly in family and community norms, determine how and how long an infant is nursed as well as when and in what manner sup- plementary feeding begins. Broad social and economic conditions, including work and the mother's social expectations and health, affect whether and how much she breastfeeds. This web of biological, personal, and cultural forces

OCR for page 127
136 / The Behavioral and Social Sciences determines whether the mother or someone else nurses and when she shifts the child to other foods, which in turn affect the survival and health of the child. If a nursing child dies, as frequently happens under conditions of poverty and disease, normal fertility returns, thereby increasing the probability of an- other pregnancy. And multiple pregnancies may have detrimental effects on the mother's health. In some societies breastfeeding is explicitly regarded as a device to lengthen the spacing between births. Fewer births increase the food supply for the existing children, thereby improving their health. In addition, breastfeeding may be accompanied by abstinence from sexual intercourse. Breastfeeding plus abstinence can result in birth spacing of from 3 to S years. As societies change, abstinence or breastfeeding or both may be abandoned for various reasons, with a consequent rise in fertility, an increase in infant mortality (due to the lack of enough nutritious and uncontaminated breast milk), and a decline in the health of women through repeated childbearing. Another cultural force that can affect birth spacing is the value that cultures place on children. Male and female children are often valued differently, and such different valuation may affect the care that an infant receives. Less than a century ago, the survival of female children was lower than that of males in regions of Western countries where females were believed to contribute less to the family economy than males, and this effect can also be observed currently in non-Western countries. Population Change in Developing Countries Fertility in developing countries has become and will remain a major focus in demographic research because of policy concerns with rapid population growth. However, scientific interest in the relationship between population change (especially growth) and human life in general (especially economic well- being) dates back to the eighteenth century. Research has shown that in modern society large family size is generally detrimental to the health and well-being of families and their members; this effect exists across different economic status. Families that limit their size benefit as families, as do their members as indi- viduals, on a variety of measures. However, the effects of families that limit their size on families that do not, the effects of family size limitation on society as a whole, and the broad social and political consequences of population growth and decline are little understood. These issues will occupy an important place in demographic research over the coming decade. Many advances have been made in sorting out the biometric features of the fertility process, and further gains in the precision of both measurements and theoretical formulations can be expected. A key to research advance is the careful analysis of specific cases of fertility declines in their social context, which includes family economics, local and national administrative systems, cultural

OCR for page 127
Institutions and Cultures / 137 change, and deliberate governmental efforts aimed at reducing fertility. For example, a series of empirical studies have demonstrated how ideological sys- tems imply particular emotional satisfactions in childrearing: in some systems, there are accepted or preferred substitute goods or services; in others, there are not. In the latter case, fertility does not drop off sharply in response to reduced mortality and improved old-age economic security as it does in the former case. There are several competing theories about the efficacy of various factors in reducing fertility: that declines in fertility result from the elimination of"un- wanted" childbearing; that structural factors affect couples' cost-benefit think- ing about having children; or that the decline of fertility is a response to the diffusion of Western ideas through the developing world. The recent work of the World Fertility Survey and the European Fertility Project lends some sup- port to the diffusion theory, but the search to uncover the combination of factors underlying fertility decline continues. An impediment to research on fertility in developing countries is the inad- equate registration of births, marriages, and deaths. Lacking these kinds of data, researchers have devised indirect strategies for estimating levels and trends of fertility and mortality. Questions that can yield such information are included in censuses or surveys. Estimates of levels of fertility and other unobservable demographic variables are also extrapolated from known population features, especially age distribution and growth rate. These methods are valuable for tracing demographic trends not only in the developing countries but also in the United States, where phenomena difficult to observe in aggregate data, such as the durations of marriages, have been built into estimation models. The growth of estimation methods has been so rapid that a 1983 compilation of state-of-the-art methods by the United Nations is already obsolete, and contin- ued development and testing of new estimation procedures is essential for increased knowledge. Research on urban growth in the developing world is also hobbled by un- satisfactory data. Because of the rate of growth and the fact that most censuses are conducted only every 10 years, data on city size is out of date by an average of 6 years and data on urban rates of growth by as much as 11 years. Urban planning policies that are based on such outdated data are vulnerable and can result in costly mistakes. Yet most developing countries do not have the re- sources to conduct more frequent censuses, to institute population registration systems, or to develop regional population estimation capabilities, like those developed successfully in such countries as the United States and Great Britain. Indeed, some countries in Africa, such as Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Zaire, are finding it difficult because of political conflict and economic strains- even to conduct regular censuses. One ingenious, new way to compensate for the lack of data is to use remote-sensing (satellite photo) techniques, which can provide estimates of the total population of urban areas in developing countries

OCR for page 127
154 / The Behavioral and Social Sciences Productivity Growth: Output per Hour of Work in Selected Older Industrial Countries Since 1950 200 160 ID 120 100 80 40 o 300 280 240 200 x 160 - 120 100 80 40 o Total Domestic Economy , _ 47 _ ~0 .....~. - ::,.: .::~: . A. .. , ~~ 1950 us ,_ rev. '..... ,. '2... ....... , 2'.. . , ....... ::::::: m ..,.: . :..... :,:., ........ i ,:..:, l F WG .~.~. ~ : .:. ..~.~. , . .... ,:~;. . ...... .. J ..~,.., ~- 1960 Manufacturlng Sector Only US '' _ ,.... ........ _ .~ _ .2~ ....... _ 2 ~. _ ..~.2. . ...,... . - GB F WG by... .... J ~ ~3 US' ::~:: :: :: . .~ ::,.... :~. . ..~.. . ..,...,.., . _ I.:. - US _ _ :::::: ,........ .:~: i. . ..::.. . .2....,. . ::.:. F WAG .~... .~::. :'.: : -.:. :.:::~.2 -:-:. ...~:, :: :., - ::: ,...... :::::,. :.... ~3 ...d :~ ....] .~.,..l ,:~.! :..] ..~..} 1 973 Year .' .' O ~2 . . ~ .,.~.,..~ aft;.] WG ~ : t-.2. ~ US _ I J I2"22] [~ ~ J ......... :.:-~ ~ .. ~ ~.... ~ ::::: ~ - - - F WG .~:] ::] ::~ US ___ - ::::::::: ..... ~,l,,:,. ..~.' .~ .-:0~, ..~ :: .. ~m F Wa ~ _ ?'.2.22 2....2.~:: ;:: t.~.3 1980 us,' ~ ., i..... t....... t . i.... |... L2'..' t........ i2.... J .-~ ! .,.:,] .~..d ] US /' ~1 _~ i ~1 1 950 1960 1973 Year 1980 1986

OCR for page 127
Institutions and Cultures / 15S while employment in Europe has been completely stagnant. In Europe it ap- pears that real wages are rigid so that reductions in the standard of living due to oil shocks are transmitted to workers by increased unemployment: that is, when wages rise relative to productivity, unemployment increases. In the United States and perhaps in Japan, it is nominal rather than real wages that are rigid; increases in price levels effectively reduce real wages, which in turn result in maintaining relatively higher levels of employment. The overriding question for research concerns the reasons for the observed differences in the apparent behavior of wages and prices in different countries. INTERNATIONAL CONFLICT The four decades since the conclusion of World War II have witnessed a great growth of interest in international politics and security, but the number of active researchers is surprisingly small, partly due to alternating periods of PRODUCTIVITY What is the nature of international industrial com- petition? How is productivity related to economic competitiveness? Is the United States in the midst of a major crisis presaging economic decline? The recent history of international economic relations has been volatile, chal- lenging scientists to understand what drives the global movement of prod- ucts, facilities, and money. This figure displays some important international trends in labor productivity, which is the value of product generated per hour of work, for the five major Western industrial countries. From the outset and throughout the period since 1950, the U.S. economy has been better at converting labor time into outputs of goods and services than were the economies of other mature industrial nations, particularly in manufacturing. All countries have shown strong gains in this period, espe- cially in manufacturing; the United States still leads in labor productivity, but that lead is now much slimmer. Overall, the United States remains the most productive economy in terms of output per work hour. The Japanese economy is still relatively low on this measure, at just over half the U.S. level. In contrast, hourly labor pro- ductivity in the French economy is high, nearly approaching the U.S. level. However, this performance is less impressive in terms of output per person. The French work a little more than one-half as many hours per capita as the Japanese, due to a shorter work week, more vacations, lower labor-force participation, and higher unemployment. The U.S. population works two- thirds as many hours per capita as the Japanese. The recent great success of Japan in international trade is due not to generalized gains in hourly labor productivity or longer hours, but to other factors, such as greater capital investment, lower real wages, and specific efficiencies in the export-oriented manufacturing sector.

OCR for page 127
156 / The Behavioral and Social Sciences feast and famine in support for researchers. While the world situation dictates a focus on the potential of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union, research also focuses on more general causes of cooperation and con- flict. The following kinds of questions are under systematic scrutiny: What is the relationship between national attributes and the domestic and foreign policy of nations? What is the evolving structure of the international political system? What are the causes of international crises and wars? What are the dynamics generally of interaction among nations? To answer these questions effectively, a systematic research approach is essential. Social and behavioral scientists need, first, to focus on posing the right research questions; second, to develop the right kinds of research designs to address the questions; and, third, to retrieve and generate the most relevant quantitative data bases and qualitative evidence that can generate explanations about them. Above all, the research should be historically and internationally informed. Superpower Relations The world has not seen a nuclear exchange and has seen only a handful of major confrontations between the superpowers. Thus, there is no direct evi- dence bearing on such crucial questions as whether nuclear war can be limited, how decision makers would behave on the brink of war, and the influence of the strategic nuclear balance on the outcomes of confrontations. But there have been 40 years of Soviet-American interaction as superpowers. Despite con- straints on access to data that would help illuminate how U.S. and Soviet policies and Soviet-American interaction have evolved, especially at turning points in the Cold War, important studies have been conducted. For example, some research has focused on the differences between declared American military policy and actual war planning. While the former has often stressed the concept of assured destruction of cities, the latter has always stressed the need to hit a wide variety of military targets. Over time there has been greater consistency in war planning, for which operational requirements and difficulties play a larger role than they do in policy declarations. Researchers have also learned that U.S. presidents are torn between regarding nuclear weap- ons as extraordinary and divorced from international politics and seeing them as merely very powerful bombs. President Eisenhower, for example, seems to have begun his presidency with the latter perspective and shifted to the former by the time he left office. In incorporating modern technology into their military establishments, the United States, the Soviet Union, and their respective allies have transformed their military organizations, instituting many surveillance and intelligence op- erations that were neither necessary nor feasible in earlier times. Many of these activities are conducted daily on a global scale and constitute continuous sources

OCR for page 127
Institutions and Cultures / 15 7 of international tension. Theories of organizational behavior generate a number of empirical questions about both the internal operations of current military establishments and the interactions among them. Those questions concern the type and frequency of operational interactions between military forces, the responsiveness of different levels of the organizational hierarchy, the flexibility of operations, and the differences between normal peacetime and crisis oper- ations. Decision Making, Beliefs, and Cognitions Progress that has been made in recent years in understanding decision- making processes (discussed in Chapters 1, 2, and 3) has extended to the study of how national leaders think about national security issues. For example, work on cognition that stresses the importance of beliefs (called scripts or schemata) helps explain both specific intelligence failures (for example, Pearl Harbor, the Iranian revolution) and the general tendency for leaders to be very slow to change their images of other countries. More generally, decision makers, like all people in their daily lives, use shortcuts to making decisions, which conserve their cognitive resources by oversimplifying the world. But this mode of infor- mation processing also leads to errors and biases as they use information that is readily available and relatively easy to grasp even if it is not the most relevant for the task at hand. Leaders who are under great pressure to follow a particular course of action for example, to challenge or try to block the action of another country are likely to develop an unwarranted belief that the course of action will succeed. The result may be unexpected conflict. Researchers need to develop a fuller understanding of how policy about national security issues is made. Useful starting points for study include how and why nations perceive others as threats, how images of other states are established and altered, the ways in which conflicts among important values are treated, how statesmen decide that certain threats are so implausible that they can be safely dismissed, and the biases and methods of simplification that characterize adversarial identification and group decision making. The exam- ination of such processes, both within a country and between countries, offers a way of clarifying how and how much international conflict and war can be explained by systemic factors, such as balances of power; by domestic factors, such as specific national capabilities, needs, and demands; by decision-making factors, such as beliefs- including ideologies and changes in leadership; or by interactions among the three. One very active research area is the impact of the domestic characteristics of a country on its security-related policies. Internal politics often influences if not dictates, external choices. Historical research into the interwar period, for example, has uncovered the deep disagreements between Great Britain and France on how strong Germany should be permitted to become before being

OCR for page 127
158 / The Behavioral and Social Sciences considered a military menace and found that the passivity of political leaders in both countries could be traced to their weakness in the face of conflicting internal demands. At the present time, for example, many security-related issues in the United States arms control, nuclear deployment, the transfer of technology are highly partisan political issues. At the same time, of course, international forces shape domestic economic and political life as well. Whether or not a state introduces strict internal political controls, for example, depends in part on the degree to which its security may be threatened by other nations. Cooperation and Conflict International politics combines cooperation and conflict, and the analysis of international politics must do the same. The example of the prisoner's dilemma, which incorporates these features, has led to a great deal of work in the field. In its most pristine form, the dilemma is this: in a particular transaction, each person has two options, which can be characterized as to cooperate or not to cooperate. If everyone cooperates, everyone receives a positive but modest return. For each person, however, the temptation not to cooperate is very strong because a noncooperative strategy greatly increases that person's return if most of the other people cooperate. But if no one cooperates, everyone's return is very negative. What is so compellingly perverse about the situation is that, for each individual in each transaction, the noncooperative alternative is at least as good as the cooperative one, regardless of what the others do. So over a series of short-term transactions, self-interest leads everyone to act noncoop- eratively. But the return from that strategy yields less benefit to every participant than would one of general cooperation. A formally comparable problem in international politics has been referred to as the security dilemma, in which efforts by one country to maximize its security by arming more heavily have the effect whether intended or de- siredof decreasing the security of other states, which are likely to react by increasing their arms, yielding mutually damaging arms races. Experimental studies have yielded valuable insights about the ways that modest shifts in payoff influence strategy, the conditions under which the third best outcome occurs, and particularly the conditions under which adversaries are able to and most likely to cooperate with each other. The time perspectives and the relative values of the payoffs to the participants are clearly important: cooperation is most likely when participants expect to have a long series of interactions, not one of which will be decisive; when the gains for exploiting the other and the losses for being exploited are relatively small; and when mutual competition is much worse for both sides than is mutual cooperation. Cooperation is facilitated by contingent strategies such as reciprocity, which is based on the principle of cooperating with another participant when and only when that participant cooperates. Cooperation is also more likely when par-

OCR for page 127
Institutions and Cultures / lS9 ticipants can determine with some certainty whether or not other participants are cooperating, when they are willing and able to reply in kind to the others' behavior, and when the other side realizes this. Under these circumstances, attempting to gain unilateral advantage is less tempting because it is seen as likely to provoke a negative response. These research findings are promising, especially since a number of alter- native hypotheses about the causes of conflict and war have been contradicted by evidence from quantitative studies. Attributes such as a nation's power or its governmental structure have not been shown to be directly related to its involvement in war. Being rich or poor, big or small, and densely or sparsely populated also does not seem to make a country more or less prone to war. And a country's internal political difficulties do not appear to make it more or less likely to engage in conflict. Arms expenditures do tend to be positively related to the incidence of warlike activity, although arms races do not invar- iably produce wars. The very concept of an "arms race" is undergoing reinter- pretation. Arms races have typically been defined as accelerating military ex- penditures in the face of a potential enemy who is doing likewise, but it has become increasingly clear that the domestic pressure for military expenditures can be a more important factor than imminent international conflict. Relative power, particularly between bordering nations, has also been shown to be a factor that influences the probability for war. However, contrary to arguments that have been advanced under the theory that a balance of power reduces the likelihood of conflict, significant evidence indicates that wars are most likely between nations with equal rather than unequal power. The com- mon view that wars are typically the consequence of accumulative, escalatory hostile interactions is not supported by analyses of numerous crises and small wars since World War II. Extensive work on the relationship between various structural attributes of the international system alliance configurations, po- larization, power distributions, and status ordering- show that these attributes do affect the level of conflict between the nations in the system, but the patterns are complex. Because research on international and national security issues is so important for public policy, it is now receiving major funding from private foundations. But most of this funding is aimed at bringing research perspectives to bear on current security policy questions. While these objectives are important, there is a real danger that basic research on cooperation and conflict is being ne- glected. Furthermore, funding for the development of quantitative data and documentary resources has been sporadic at best. The data sets that do exist are largely the work of a few individual researchers with no guarantee that they will continue to be updated and no clear opportunity for extending and de- veloping the compilations in response to the evolving needs of the research community. Although data collectors are generally aware of each others' ma- terial, there is no mechanism to integrate and compare their results. Much of

OCR for page 127
160 / The Behavioral and Social Sciences the relevant information that has been produced or gathered by the U.S. gov- ernment is classified and not readily accessible to scholars. Although many documents are so sensitive that they should remain secret, many are not. For declassified information, a system of coordination and sharing of information . . IS reqUlreC .. Support for other approaches is also needed. Documents themselves rarely tell the whole story and need to be supplemented by structured interviews, especially with the lower-level officials who have played crucial roles in such areas as American war planning and the analysis of Soviet military posture- and, of course, their Soviet counterparts to the extent possible. More extensive declassification and structured interviewing is in the interest of the government as well as the research community. It would generate research that civil serv- ants, even intelligence specialists, do not have the time or skills to conduct. The greater understanding of current problems that results from careful analysis of earlier situations would benefit the government as well as the research com- munity. For this work, it is especially important to develop efficient means of communication (preprint series, electronic mail and bulletin boards, telecon- ference systems) and to make arrangements for extended interchange among people who are working on similar problems. OPPORTUNITIES AND NEEDS Research on institutions and cultures, like most of the research areas covered in the previous three chapters, calls for a diversity of theories, techniques, and data collections. The study of fertility and migration, for example, uses so- phisticated models of decision making, complex statistical analysis of demo- graphic time series, ethnographic study of individuals, families, and commu- nities, and archival investigations. Despite this diversity, however, nearly all areas of research on cultures and institutions, including the areas cited in this chapter, call for historical and cross-national studies: the evolution of human characteristics, changes in family structure and in the major world religions, science and technological competition, nations and transnational corporations, and superpower conflict and cooperation. Federal and foundation support for historical and cross-national research has been particularly sparse for the past two decades. The Ford Foundation's massive support in the late 1950s and early 1960s was both unprecedented and helpful, but it was short lived; congressional passage of the International Education Act of 1966 was promising, but funds were never provided. There have been no new major initiatives since then. We believe it is time to bring support for this type of research fully back into the research picture, both to build on the innovations made in recent years and to develop new capacities to answer the increasing number of complex questions being raised about

OCR for page 127
Institutions and Cultures / 161 institutions and cultures. Overall, we recommend new annual expenditures of $S1 million for strengthening research on institutions and cultures. The biggest need in these areas is for an expansion of support for investigator- initiated grants. As we have discussed above, such grants have been among the most fruitful mechanisms for research progress throughout the behavioral and social sciences; however, there is a particular additional need in the fields discussed in this chapter. Many of the topics discussed above could now take advantage of a major expansion of collaborative work. In the study of inter- nationalization processes, for example, it is very important for small groups of scholars to work together for continuous periods of 1 year or more or to meet periodically for several weeks at a time during 2 or 3 years. In the area of international security, these mechanisms, in conjunction with expanded meth- ods of rapid communication, are particularly important to make better use of quantitative and qualitative data resources and to coordinate research efforts. In the study of science and technology, a fundamental opportunity is emerging to develop the comparative study of public and private institutions through team efforts involving senior and postdoctoral researchers and graduate stu- dents. There are tangible costs associated with the augmentation of these kinds of collaborative research. Not only must more than one researcher be supported, but increased travel is also needed to coordinate research efforts, an expense that is even greater when the collaboration is international. (We note that increased support for international collaborative research may make it neces- sary for federal funding agencies to reconsider and perhaps change existing rules that hinder or preclude extensive collaborative arrangements with foreign research agencies.) We recommend that, at a minimum, a total of $13 million be added to annual expenditures for investigator-initiated grants on institutions and culture, and that at least $3 million of that increase be directed specifically toward expansion of collaborative research. There is a substantial need for more graduate and postdoctoral fellowship support to restore the flow of new and talented young researchers into these fields. This requirement is especially marked at the postdoctoral level. We recommend that $6 million be added to annual support of postdoctoral fel- lowships for research on institutions and cultures and that $2 million be added to support of graduate students. There are unusually strong opportunities for research workshops and ad- vanced training institutes to be effective in ensuring collaboration, dissemi- nation of developing knowledge, and the use of new techniques in research on institutions and culture. A particularly important opportunity is to train more researchers in the most effective methods of retrieving, coding, analyzing, and synthesizing widely different kinds of information from historical archives and less systematic records and artifacts; this kind of training is often provided to historians during their graduate work, but it is seldom part of the training given

OCR for page 127
162 / The Behavioral and Social Sciences to other kinds of scientists. Institutes and workshops are the best mechanisms to develop and upgrade such skills and combine them with other research approaches. We recommend an additional $3 million yearly for research work- shops among researchers working on related problems, and $1 million for advanced training institutes. Equipment needed for research on institutions and culture consists mainly of computer hardware and the associated development of software for individ- ual and group investigators. Two special equipment needs are in archaeological studies, for which dating and other techniques have become complex and demanding, and in demographic studies, for which expanded technological capabilities for data-base management, analysis, and dissemination are needed. We recommend additional annual support of $6 million for equipment, $5 million of which should be for computer-related expenditures. Studies of institutions and cultures very often require the creation and as- sembly of diverse kinds of empirical information: economic and other time- series data; survey and other interview data; institutional and cultural products, such as legal codes and documents revealing religious beliefs and practices; and documentary, calendrical, and quantitative materials relating to historically important events such as assassinations, political successions, and wars. This information often presents problems of access. A similar problem arises in the study of how human institutions and pop- ulations evolved: a full palette of continuously improving methods, from ra- diochemical assays to anatomical imaging and reconstruction to symbolic in- terpretation are used, but overriding all is the need for sustained access to the geographical locales where rich archaeologically accessible traces of the past and relevant ethological and ecological comparison sites can be systematically probed. First-hand geographic access is also needed for the study of fertility and migrational changes in the developing countries of Africa, the interaction between political change and religious movements in Latin America, and the development of state-based institutions for managing relations with transna- tional corporate enterprises and developing international market strategies in eastern Asia. Continuity of contact, including the ability to host and visit across national and regional borders on a regular basis, and a sharing of contacts and expertise among researchers, are instrumental to sustaining geographical ac- cess, and these capabilities require explicit underwriting. Geographic access also includes photography from aircraft or satellite platforms for archaeological and geographic canvasses. Many facets of these efforts are in the diplomatic arena, involving agreements between the U.S. government and other governments, American universities and foreign governments, American universities and foreign universities, and individual scientists and other governments. These diplomatic activities are a critical adjunct to the increases in research support that we recommend for grants, fellowships, and workshops to advance cross-national and historical research on institutions and cultures.

OCR for page 127
Institutions and Cultures / 163 A different kind of access problem involves privileged information that has been unavailable to researchers because of respondent privacy or anonymity, national security, or trade secrecy. Classified data of the U.S. government, acquired at great expense for primarily military or national intelligence pur- poses, could significantly contribute to substantial advances in the study of international security and conflict. Procedures of declassification do not now take into specific account the analytical benefit that may accrue as a result of opening data resources to research scholars. A joint inquiry by the relevant agencies and researchers should consider how to build such considerations into an active declassification procedure. Costs involved at the early stages of this process would be mainly administrative, but subsequent efforts to process previously classified information for research would be significant. We rec- ommend allocating $3 million annually to this effort. A related kind of data-oriented opportunity is expanded research access to microdata files held by government agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, and the Bureau of the Census, and to university-based research files, such as the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. There are substantial research programs that depend on research access to certain portions of the accumulated data (and we have recommended expan- sion of such programs; see Chapter 31. However, relatively precise locational information about individual respondents over time, which is critical for the study of migration and a variety of regional socioeconomic questions, is gen- erally suppressed or withheld in order to ensure the anonymity of respondents. We recommend a research program to make this locational dimension usable for social science research, and we estimate that $1 million annually is needed for this effort. To facilitate high-quality comparative research on demographic behavior, it would also be very useful to develop a central-library-type facility in the United States, with demographic data bases available on computer tapes. Some de- mographic data files are available at only one institution and are largely un- known to researchers located elsewhere, at the same time that many data sets are duplicated in a dozen or more American institutions. Some centralization of data is desirable; such a center could also develop into a disseminator of software and technical expertise on a wide variety of computer-related subjects in population studies. This is basically a matter of coordination of existing resources and may be achieved with relatively little net cost. A final data-access opportunity concerns the historical records of corpora- tions regarding their proprietary research and development activities, which comprise a resource of great importance to understanding the development of modern science and technology. The precedent established by several corpo- rations in enabling these records to be treated as archives and used for research under professional auspices is a very encouraging initiative. An expanded pro- gram of record retention, sampling, codification, and structured interviewing to supplement the archival record is highly desirable. At early stages the cost

OCR for page 127
164 / The Behavioral and Social Sciences for the release of these kinds of information would be mainly administrative, but we recommend that a regular extension of this process, including trans- lation of the relevant data into forms usable for research, be undertaken at the level of at least $1 million per year. Another data resource is the longitudinal, international, quantitative data file developed explicitly for cross-national studies of industrial, commercial, or public sector productivity, international security relations, trends in family and population structure, shifts in religious participation, or the growth of scientific and technological capabilities. These files can be developed from a variety of primary and secondary data sources and linked in various ways depending on the nature of the research questions posed to them. The primary issues con- cerning these data are stability of support, quality control, standardization across different sources, completeness across periods and parts of the globe, and sheer practical experience in using the data by a large enough set of researchers applying the relevant technical and conceptual tools. Time-series data over long periods are particularly difficult to kind or recon- struct. Although the need for such data was first recognized by scientists in the nineteenth century, and there have been sustained efforts over the last 40 years by the United Nations and other organizations, it has been only partly met. A particular need is to strive for improvement of standardized historical series in censuses, surveys, and medical and educational records. Support for data col- lection, documentation, and dissemination are essential to ensure that a strong factual base is available for the next steps in comparative research on global processes. We recommend that $8 million be allocated annually to develop, order, and analyze such data sets. The final category of new research opportunities is the creation of research centers. international scientific centers are a major avenue for stabilizing access to overseas sites and enabling the continuous testing and upgrading of theories and methods in cross-national, historical, and longitudinal research. A new international center with a strong demographic emphasis, to complement those in Bangladesh and Guatemala, would be a valuable spur to research. We rec- ommend support for the planning of such a center, with a requirement for detailed proposals as the basis for full-scale evaluation. The study of modern science and technology, including the behavioral and social sciences and their application, is also ripe for the development of one or more research centers. These kinds of initiatives can involve substantial costs. The establishment and the assumption of basic operating expenses for an international center of the type envisioned could run into several millions of dollars per year, though costs can be shared with other nations. Taking the various possibilities into account, we recommend an annual investment of $7 million in new research centers devoted to the study of cultures and institutions.