Institutional Foundations and Policies: Measures of Civil Society & Civil Disobedience

Reiss, Christopher Jacob , Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Covert, Robert, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Kneedler, Rebecca, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Meyer, J. Patrick, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

The purpose of this dissertation is multidimensional. First, the evolution of civil society as a concept, as conceived by various theorists from Ancient Greece and Rome through the post-modern global world, is briefly outlined. Its uses as a construct in contemporary research; across diverse fields of inquiry are explored and how it might be useful in social foundations and policy research is detailed. Second, different methods for studying politics are identified, while positivist and anti-positivist views are compared and contrasted across ontological and epistemological concerns. In light of this, a review of research differentiating the determinants of behavior is presented. It looks at internal characteristics, situational characteristics and/or their interaction as outcome determinants. Third, an interaction model is proposed incorporating both quantitative and qualitative assessment techniques that measure external factors effecting society, and society's internal characteristics/processes (albeit temporary, transitory or enduring generalities over time). Additionally, an interaction effect of internal and external variables is statistically represented in the statistical portioning of variance. The model is mathematically delineated as:

0 𝒇 [C, R, (C x R), E]

In other words, political output behavior (i.e., 0) is a function (i.e. 𝒇 ) of a main effect due to the characteristics of a particular civil society or association (i.e., C), in addition to a separate main effect due to the broader context that the civil association is in (i.e., R), an interaction effect between the two (i.e., C x R), and an error term (i.e., E). The variance partitioned into the interaction term theoretically represents an assimilation accommodation, or a social construction of reality process. The ramifications are specified, herein. Fourth, a review of the literature on test construction is presented, and tests are developed that measure an association's general tendency towards civility (i.e., the general "trait" level) and, alternatively, measure changing levels of civility across different situations or points in time (i.e., the specific "state" level). Split-half reliability estimates for the newly developed state and trait measures, ranging from good to excellent, are detailed. Fifth, methodological concerns are considered and construct validity is assessed. Specifically, it is hypothesized that individual differences in trait measures of civility, tend to remain constant for a particular association across different situations. In contrast, it is hypothesized that state levels will differ across different situations, while showing little individual differentiation. Sixth, an alternate test is developed in order to assess the degree to which an association takes action to increase the probability of a desired outcome or the degree to which it fails to have any effect on political outcomes, leaving it up to chance external factors. Further uses for the instruments developed, herein, are proposed. It is hoped that this study will lead to a new approach in social foundations and policy research that can be applied to other concepts separate from civil society, civility, lack thereof and/or the effectiveness of associations in bringing about policy outcomes and change. Beyond these concrete advances, it is also hoped that this research can bridge the divide between quantitative, qualitative positivist and anti-positivist theories. Above all other aims, this study seeks to provide new knowledge in an area of investigation that was lacking. Although some advances have recently been made in the area of incivility measurement at the individual behavioral level, this research fills the void that existed with respect to measurement at the organizational level.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
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