Methodology and Political Culture Measurement

Robert Bilak

If you were around during the 2019 Alberta Election, you would know that there are many conflicting ideas about what it means to be an Albertan, as well as what Alberta should look like. Anyone who had the misfortune of looking at some of the unsolicited comments found on any Facebook post (despite how important it is to use social media as an advocacy tool) is likely to know of the divisive nature of some of the narratives being spread.

During my Stretch Experience, I have worked as a Research Assistant for the Alberta Political Culture Project (ACPC) under the leadership of Dr. Jared Wesley. The goal of the project is to develop a better methodology that allows for political scientists around the world to measure political culture within groups of people, not simply through individual surveys which takes out the collective aspect missing from the current literature. The current question is, “Are Albertans really as conservative as we think?” While this question may seem redundant, our ability to understand and measure political culture that will come out of this project has implications for the future.

While lots of my work now is focus group design and literature reviews, eventually the research will be mobilized in such as a way that we are using it to fight racist and sexist streaks in Alberta, working to alleviate some of the tension that comes with diverse views. Eventually, we will be sharing data with different groups across the province working with them to support the groups they serve. If we are able to better understand this province and the people in it, then we are more likely to get at the root of some of the hatred and oppression in this province. While the work is still in the early phases, I look forward to seeing what the project ends up finding out about political culture, and the ways in which it is used to serve our communities.

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