Exploring the Social Imagination

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Rasch's Equations model relationships we expect to obtain in the Real World.

Really? I would like to ask Georg Rasch what the real world is what? Why? Because, it is obvious he does not understand what it is. The real world is only that which can be called the 'paramount reality'. Alfred Schutz put that phrase forward long before Rasch. What does that mean? The paramount reality is the first social reality we encounter - society as the world of work as in 'doing and being' in a place.

In every society as in culture, this is perceived differently due to religion and geography and the socio-history that is the 'story' of the people in a place and what successes and failures they have experienced in a place and how they see themselves moving forward in that place which again has everything to do with their idea of who they are in the place and also that place within the greater cosmos. Why is any of that important or how does it influence what people do in 'their or a particular' place as pertaining to their moving forward in that place... what we might call 'new' developments in education and technology in a place (not considering yet a 'global' type citizen whose place is the world)?

It is important to talk about place because it has a direct impact on who we are and what we do.  It causes certain meaning to be given to things and to people.  When I talk about place, I do not mean just geography. I mean all social events, cognitive' collective consciousnesses driving such events, that takes place in a certain location that we can notice not taking place anywhere else. As a sociologist, I talk about meaning in a place. This is truly fascinating, it cannot be measured as we like to think it can. Of course, we can come up with probability statistical that will show a tendency but it lacks the depth of meaning. Which of course can be argued by mathematicians that like to reduce society to numbers.  In doing so, they reduce meaning, they reduce social imagination to calculated propensity.

They think that they are seeing something as naturally occurring data. But, they are not. They are seeing what they want to see. What they want to see is part of 'their social imagination'. All things lie in our social imagination. We can imagine a wonderfully creative and meaningful place or a dry cold numbered place that tracks and calculates.

You see, Georg Rasch was of the later. He promoted psychometrics which is a field of study concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement. One part of the field is concerned with the objective measurement of skills and knowledge, abilities, attitudes,personality traits, and educational achievement. He was interested thus in the calculation of social imagination. That sounds witty but it is not wise. Numbers produce results no doubt about that. But, they do not reflect the true nature of the social imagination.

Some psychometric researchers have concerned themselves with the construction and validation of assessment instruments such as questionnaires, tests, raters' judgments, and personality tests to understand the human mind, the human social imagination. Oh, how they deny themselves the true intimate nature and understanding of the workings of the social imagination.

Why would I say that? It is because the key requirement of the Rasch model is embodied within the formal structure. Consequently, the Rasch model is a method of assessment that looks at how the assessment should be changed to meet the requirement of what is being studied. This sets up a false idea of what the naturally occurring data is. It presumes that the data is like 'that' or 'this'. We have to only set up proper assessment in order to see the data we presume to be there or want to achieve.

The model of assessment should be changed so that this requirement is met, in the same way that a weighing scale should be rectified if it gives different comparisons between objects upon separate measurements of the objects. This does not provide true measurement. It supposes what we think we see or want to see. The scale example is a good illustration for this. As I might measure the same and rectify the scale in order to obtain what I want or think it should produce. It is a dangerous kind of social imagination in my opinion.
Because the intention is to make everyone the same, supposing a high level can be met if we assess it properly.

The real world is more like web of intricate patters, some have smaller detail, some have larger spaces and no one pattern is exactly the same. Each 'fractal' though repeating is not the same fractal in everything and in everyone. Though, from God's view it is just one big incredible fractal. It may have the same components but the arrangement is different. You see, it is because a fractal has irregular or fragmented shape at all scales of measurement.  Just Ask ...What would be the purpose of making them the same? What would that mean? We suppose that it would mean something better, it would reflect a greater intelligence? or greater social imagination. Meaning is everything for the sociologist. Before the equation, there is meaning.

*Fractal - first described by French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot as a geometrical or physical structure having an irregular or fragmented shape at all scales of measurement between a greatest and smallest scale such that certain mathematical or physical properties of the structure, as the perimeter of a curve or the flow rate in a porous medium, behave as if the dimensions of the structure (fractal dimensions) are greater than the spatial dimensions.

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