Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences


Modernisation Theory vs Stratified Democracy #2

PART 2 Slavery and colonialism – the origins of Dependency As a Marxist, Frank has no hesitation in rooting dependency in the twin ‘evils’ of colonialism and Capitalism. Between 1650 and 1900 European powers, with Britain in the lead, used their superior naval and military technology to conquer and colonise many parts of the world. Paul Harrison (1990) argues that the principal result of the European empires was the creation of a global economy on European terms and the beginnings of the world capitalist system…. Colonies were primarily exploited for their cheap food, raw materials and labour – eg; Britain’s virtual monopoly over cotton benefited expansion of the Lancashire and Yorkshire textile industries. It’s worth noting that cheap labour also included slavery. From 1650 to 1850 some 9 million Africans (between the ages of 15 and 35) were shipped across the Atlantic to work as slaves on cotton, sugar and tobacco plantations in America and the West Indies, owned mainly by British settlers. The British slave-traders and the plantation owners made huge profits. The most fertile land was appropriated for growing ‘cash crops’ for export to the West. New markets in the colonies were created for manufactured goods from the industrial… Read More

How to build a MeshWORK

Updated: 16 July 2018 It is difficult to be prescriptive about developing a MeshWORK. Because the Gravesian approach enables us to recognise and work with a number of different value systems (vMEMES) in play at any one time, MeshWORKS interventions – and, indeed, the very structures to deliver those interventions – will be dependent on the needs of the client peoples and/or organisations. So a MeshWORK is highly organic and readily flexible, shifting its structure and its interventions to meet the changing circumstances and the changing natures of the client peoples and/or organisations. However, there are 2 core principles:- Breadth The MeshWORK must create CAPI – Coalesced Authority, Power and Influence (Integration). This is a concept Spiral Dynamics co-developer Don Beck has borrowed from management guru, Ichak Adizes (1987) for enhancement of the MeshWORK concept. (Adizes’ Organisation LifeCycle is often a powerful tool to link with the Gravesian approach for MeshWORK development – particularly when using the Lower Quadrants of 4Q/8L to look at needs and conflict in organisations. Adizes provides not only the most highly-advanced model of organisational development but also a means of mapping which vMEMES are driving (or hindering!) that development. # ‘Authority’ is the ability to make decisions. #’Power’ is the… Read More

Strange Situation

Updated: 19 December 2016 Over 60 years after its prototype was first deployed and in spite of a welter of criticisms – especially from cross-cultural research – the Strange Situation remains the most popular and most used measure of children’s attachment. Just exactly what the procedure measures and how successful it actually is have been contested by several prominent researchers and theoreticians and a number of limitations have been acknowledged over the years. Ironically, considering the issues raised by some cross-cultural research, the idea for the procedure came from work in Uganda  by Mary Ainsworth. She had worked for a period with John Bowlby in the UK and been much influenced by Bowlby researcher John Robertson’s meticulous attention to detail in recording naturalistic observations, particularly to do with separation. In 1954 Ainsworth went to Uganda, as a result of her husband getting a research position there. She studied mother-child relationships in 6 villages of the Ganda people in Kampala, visiting 26 mothers and their infants, every 2 weeks for 2 hours per visit over a period of up to 9 months. Visits (with an interpreter) took place in the family living room, where Ganda women generally entertain in the afternoon. She was particularly interested in determining the… Read More

The Trouble with Tribalism…

7 July 2016 …is that most Western politicians don’t get it. It’s seen as something relevant to Pre-Modern ‘primitive’ communities but not to Modern societies. And, when Western-style one person/one (secret) vote Democracy is offered to tribal communities as part of the Modernisation process, so many Western leaders seem genuinely perplexed at the relative lack of enthusiasm for it. The Americans in particular seemed baffled that attempts to embed Democracy in the wake of their invasions of the Noughties produced the markedly-corrupt government of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and the corrupt and overtly-sectarian government of Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. A Do-It-Yourself attempt to introduce Democracy in Egypt produced a government (of the Islamic Brotherhood) so unacceptable to the urban middle classes and the army that a ‘sort-of coup’ was instigated, followed by rigged elections, to return the country to neo-military rule as before. Highly-controversial and bitterly-contested ‘democratic’ elections following Libya’s revolutionary civil war resulted in 2 – and arguably 3? – would-be governments claiming the right to rule with their various militia, often organised on sectarian or tribal lines, slugging it out in a patchy, second civil war. Anyone versed in the Gravesian approach could have told the Western planners and the internet-inspired urban ‘democrats’ of Egypt that their campaigns to introduce Western-style Democracy would hit trouble. (See:… Read More

SocioPsychological Factors in Crime #2

PART 2 Lower Class and Marxist Sub-Cultures Much research indicates there is a relationship between being in the lower classes and crime. Merton explores the relationship between poverty, consumerism and crime in Strain Theory. Daly & Wilson prefer to focus on the limited opportunities and limited life expectancy. Both locate their theories in lower class sub-cultures. Another lower-class sub-culture theorist is Albert Cohen (1955). Influenced both by Merton and the ethnographic ideas of the Chicago School of Sociology. he was especially interested in the fact that much offending behaviour was being simply done for the ‘thrill of the act’, rather than from economic motivations. (This is still evidenced today as, according to the Office of National Statistics (2020),  around a million offences of this type were committed in 2018-2019. Cohen does not share Merton’s emphasis on economic motivation and materialistic gain. Rather he sees deviance and crime as expressive.) According to Cohen, lower class boys strive to emulate middle class values and aspirations but lack the means to achieve success – leading to ‘status frustration’. Consequently these boys end up rejecting middle class values. Cohen (p119): “The delinquent sub-culture offers him status as against other children of whatever social level, but… Read More

The 7th Code

by Don Beck October 2006 Spiral Dynamics co-developer Don Beck is occasionally prone to post what effectively amount to teach-ins or mini-lectures on the Spiral Dynamics e-lists. This is an extract from one such posting in 2000. You can e-mail Don or visit the Spiral Dynamics Integral website to find out more about his work. Clearly, the contours of YELLOW (G-T/Systemic/Authentic) have not been etched in tin much less set in concrete. But, with all due respect to other developmental models, this highlights the uniqueness of the Gravesian/SDi perspective in that it does address, with great specificity, how each new vMEMETIC code actually appears; what are the life conditions that spark and drive it; and how life problems ‘G’ will awaken the capacities (T) to deal with new realities, new challenges and new threats as well. What provides the totem pole for development is, in our view, the accumulation of the vMEMETIC codes or schemes (with the multiple expressions of content or themes) that form societal stacks that maintain all of the awakened codes and set the stage for new ones in the future. This is what we call The Double Helix; namely the interaction between life conditions experienced and the… Read More


PART 4 How complex is people’s thinking? The issue of just how far the bulk of any population ascend the Spiral/Hierarchy – experience the emergence of vMEMES in an ascending sequence – is a contentious one. In 1996 Beck & Cowan conjectured that the percentages of the world’s population dominated by a nodal vMEME in their thinking was:- BEIGE: 0.1% PURPLE: 10% RED: 20% BLUE: 40% ORANGE: 30% GREEN: 10% YELLOW: 1% TURQUOISE: 0.1% The percentages, of course, don’t add up to 100% and there is no breakdown of percentage to continents, cultures or societies. Cowan (Chris Cowan & Nastasha Todorovic, 2006b) has admitted that the figures were a (very!) rough interpretation/extrapolation of various data sets (including United Nations data) while Beck has never commented (for public consumption) on the estimates. Nonetheless, in general it supported the notion that the bulk of the population – the Western population, at least – were not significantly beyond a BLUE (Kohlberg) or BLUE/orange (Loevinger) way of thinking. Further support for this notion came from research using Kohlberg’s concepts. Using what effectively was a 9-stage model incorporating 3 sub-stages, Lawrence Walker, Brian De Vries & Shelley Trevethan (1987) found general agreement with Kohlberg. They interviewed 40 boys and 40 girls… Read More

The REAL Reason for Staying in the EU

EU Countries don’t go to War with Each Other I might have missed it in the deluge of information from both sides in the European Union referendum debate…but, as far as I know, no one has yet fully explored this point. Just beyond the borders of the EU there have been wars – most notably in the break-up of Yugoslavia (which even saw the return of concentration camps) but also in the Ukraine and just across the Mediterranean in Libya. But no member of the EU has gone to war with another member of the EU – nor is there any obvious indication that such a level of conflict is brewing between any member states. No British soldier has died in battle on the European continent since 1945. In and amongst the economic and legal elements of the debate, it’s vital to remember the context of the foundation of what was the Common Market and became the European Union. A ‘common market’ to prevent war The setting up of the European Coal & Steel Community (ECSC), first proposed by French foreign minister Robert Schuman on 9 May 1950, was intended explicitly to prevent further war between France and Germany. Schuman declared his aim was to “make war… Read More

Attribution Biases

Updated: 20 April 2016 An attribution bias is  a distortion in perception or judgement about the causes of our own or other people’s behaviour. The attributions people make are not always accurate due to these cognitive biases. Rather than operating as objective perceivers, people are prone to perceptual errors that lead to biased interpretations of their social world Some of the most important biases are:- Fundamental Attribution Error Also known as Correspondence Bias or Overattribution Effect, this is the tendency for people to over-emphasise dispositional (or personality-based), explanations for behaviours observed in others while under-emphasising situational explanations. In other words, people have an unjustified tendency to assume that a person’s actions depend on what ‘kind’ of person that person is rather than on the social and environmental forces influencing the person. The term was coined by Lee Ross (1977) after a now-classic experiment by Edward E Jones & Victor Harris (1967). Americn participants read short pro- and anti-Fidel Castro essays. They were asked to rate the pro-Castro attitudes of the writers. When the participants believed that the writers freely chose the positions they took (for or against Castro), they naturally rated the people who spoke in favour of Castro as having… Read More