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‘Operationalizing and Measuring Normative Notions in the Study of Extremism’ 25-05-2023
Boudewijn de Bruin and Juliette de Wit in a lecture on ‘Operationalizing and Measuring Normative Notions in the Study of Extremism’.
Empirical researchers generally experience some degree of unease when they have to deal with concepts and phenomena that are inherently normative. Concepts such as rationality, morality, and beauty are often thought to be mere social constructs, without definite boundaries or properties, ‘value-laden’, ‘subjective’, and very much influenced by the personal values of researchers, participants in experiments, and respondents in surveys. These properties have led empirical researchers to stay away from investigating normative concepts. This has hampered, we believe, progress in the theoretical and empirical work on extreme beliefs, disagreement, radicalism and extremism, and moral exemplars, among others. In this Chapter, we show that one can admit normative concepts to have these properties, and still conceptualize, operationalize, and measure them. We discuss the received view among empirical researchers, and present a number of examples from different lines of research of (what we consider) successful empirical work on normative concepts. We highlight potential challenges and objections, and provide concrete and practicable recommendations that may guide future empirical work.
Dr Juliette de Wit is an Assistant professor in Economics at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Groningen.
Prof. dr. Boudewijn de Bruin is a Professor of Financial Ethics at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Groningen.