ERIC Number: ED381846
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Nov-19
Reference Count: N/A
Collective Voluntarism and Public Affairs Knowledge: A Typology for Knowledge Gap Theory Development.
Gaziano, Emanuel; Gaziano, Cecilie
A "collective voluntarism" framework can be used to achieve greater analytical precision and improve theoretical development of the landmark "knowledge gap hypothesis" which has stimulated considerable research and debate about the nature and existence of socially structured public affairs knowledge. The original knowledge gap hypothesis locates differential acquisition of public affairs knowledge within the social structure and explains the emergence and consequences of gaps for collectivities, particularly communities. Combining the two dichotomies of: (1) whether sociocultural phenomena are represented as naturally occurring or as voluntary human constructions; and (2) whether these phenomena are best explained by analyzing the propensities of individual actors or those properties unique to collectivities produces four categories. The categories are: societal naturalism, individual voluntarism, atomic naturalism, and collective voluntarism. The first three categories are represented by existing research on the knowledge gap hypothesis. Three ideas within current knowledge gap work can serve as points of departure for a collective voluntarist perspective: the model of collectivity employed, the manner in which knowledge is conceptualized, and the value of such knowledge. Readily available concepts with which to organize a contextual, collective voluntarist view are those of "culture" and "social process." The process of knowledge gap construction can be studied in depth with the tools of event sequence analysis. Although no known studies of knowledge differentials fulfill the definition of "collective voluntarism," parts of several studies both within and outside the knowledge gap literature suggest approaches which could be included and expanded in such research. (Contains 45 references, 2 data tables, and 12 notes.) (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Knowledge Acquisition; Knowledge Gap Hypothesis
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research (20th, Chicago, IL, November 19, 1994).