Units of Analysis and the “meta” of Fractal Society

Units of Analysis

There is an idea from research and statistics called “the unit of analysis” which refers to what we focus on when we are analyzing something.  So if wee looking at a family in relation to poverty we can focus on the financial status and well-being of the family as a whole, or of each individual in the family. So our unit of analysis can be “the family” or “the individual.”

For a different viewpoint, if we are working for social change (let’s say eliminating poverty) we can focus on individuals, or families,or global economic forces (or anything in between).

One of the idea behind fractal society is that there are connections between these different units (of analysis) in which these units (s-fractals) in which the units at different levels may reflect and impact each other.

So all in all, it can be useful to remember what level we are looking at; the atomic, neurological, cognitive, individual, group, national,global. Another to say that is we might want to remember what unit of analysis we are using.

The problem with “unit” of analysis

A “unit” is a solitary thing. Apparently it comes from the world “unity” and it may be related to “digit.” So an individual is a “unit” as is a family, and even an extended family. The “Sangers” consist of me and my sisters and our mom and my sisters kids (and maybe spouses) and aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews.  So while the “Sangers” is made up of many units, we can also think of it s a solitary thing, very different from the “Lozhars.” or the “Obamas.”

Now one fractal society aspect of this is there are probably some similarities between how the units that make up the Sangers interact with each other and how the units that makeup the Obamas interact with each other. And while recognizing those similarities might be very useful, I think they might miss the mark.

Are we units?

This goes back to the wavicle issue: is it more useful ti think of ourselves as waves or as droplets of wate. Milarepa sang about thoughts being like waves on  the ocean, and advised us to realize that if we are anything we are the ocean, and not the waves.

To say it another way, we are the thinker, not the thoughts. But it is far more accurate (je pense) to say we are the thinking not the thoughts.

Which gets back to the idea of “units” of analysis. Does the very act of thinking in terms of “units” of analysis force us to look at the waves, not the ocean.  Does it cause us to spend all our time thinking about me and mine and you and yours and us and ours — when maybe those are just reifications.

Two thirds of Three-fold purity

The idea that on some fundamental level (ocean?) there is no you or me is part of what Buddhists call three-fold purity, which views “pure” giving as being based on the realization that there is no one giving something, no one receiving something, and no thing being given. (you could put “unit” in that sentence and it might be interesting.)

So what if we dropped the you and me and there was just giving.  Or kissing.

As e.e.cummings (so to speak) wrote

,While you and i have lips and voices which
are for kissing and to sing with
who cares if some oneeyed son of a bitch
invents an instrument to measure Spring with

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit exceeded. Please complete the captcha once again.