I’m working on writing up a lengthy description of an alternative to Lakoff’s political theory, mostly because I feel guilty about doing little more than trashing it without offering anything positive to the discussion. My approach is based on, well, actual research, and unlike Lakoff’s, it won’t be designed to prove the superiority of one political party over any other. If it works, it would be equally useful to anyone of any political bent. Part of what my approach requires is actual empirical research on the structure of people’s representations of the concepts involved in political debates (e.g., abortion, social security, health care, etc.). Unfortunately, college undergrads who are taking introductory psychology, and the people who are willing to do a study for $8/hr may not accurately represent the voting public in general (plus, no one’s going to give me a grant to do the research anyway, so I have to do it cheaply, which means the reward for participating will simply be the satisfaction you get for contributing to my project), so I’m thinking that the internet may be a great place to collect such data. It would mean spreading the word to areas of the internet inhabited by people on the political right, the political left, or somewhere inbetween or outside of that dimension. The task would be pretty simple. People would simply have to list attributes of a particular concept (e.g., abortion) so that I would have the material to stick that data into a model (I didn’t create the model, it’s existed for years), which would output “candidate inferences” that people might make with certain comparisons, analogies, metaphors, etc. That information would then be used to guide the way people talk about the issues. In other words, it’s designed to do what framing analysis is supposed to do.
My problem is that, well, I’m terrible at this social networking thing, so I am not really sure it would work to do it through the blog, and by soliciting other blogs. My question to you, then, is if I set this up, would you be willing to participate, and if you have a blog, would you be willing to spread the word so that we can get a broad sample? Naturally, doing it through the blog, I’d make the data (excluding, of course, any information that would identify the participants) available to anyone who wants it.