Published on 8 May 2006
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Intercultural Research Group Project: Objectives and Methodology

Associated Central Topics: Cross-culturalism, dialog and multilingualism . Cultures and responsibility .
Associated General Topics: Cross-cultural .

Specific objectives

Within the wider context described above, the specific objectives of the research project are to bring to the fore :

1. Specific understandings of the idea of Responsibility in the 10 languages / cultures of the participants in the project

2. Consequences of these understandings for social practices in those cultural contexts

3. Common elements unfolded in these understandings.

4. A contribution to intercultural dialogue aiming on the one hand at understanding differences and on the other discovering of which elements a common ethical ground for an International Charter of Human Responsibilities would consist.

The output of this intercultural research project is expected to be a unique book which will contain :

a. an introduction (explaining the background of the project and the methodology written by the coordinator)

b. 10 chapters written by each of the participants on the notion of Responsibility in their own language/culture

c. a concluding cross-analysis addressing differences and commonalities emerging from the 10 preceding chapters (written by the coordinator).

This effort of making explicit cultural specificities and commonalities will hopefully provide concrete material for a necessary intercultural dialogue on how people in various parts of the world perceive their human responsibilities and how they assume and exercise them.

Diffusion of the book is assured within the framework of the Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United World and through its numerous socio-professional groups to a much larger international public.


A group has been formed of 10 persons who are experts in the language and culture of their country / region. The members of this research group met in India (May 2005) in order to exchange ideas on the method and to agree on its application. A second meeting (spring 2006) will be devoted to comparing and analysing the results of the ten studies and of the first drafts for the chapters of each of the members of the group.

This second meeting is considered to be of great importance. For not only written comments may be helpful to improve one’s thinking. It is precisely thanks to personal, spontaneous exchanges of the various reactions, in the course of free flowing discussions, that unforeseen questions from "strangers" reveal the specificities of one’s own context, in particular those which were taken for granted.

The methodology is aimed at providing a basis for comparison of the results of each of the ten research efforts.


In reference to the more theoretical ideas set out in the position paper 06/12/04 on the “constellations of associations” (p.3/4), the proposed "three layer circle framework" for structuring the research findings on Responsibility in the specific languages/cultures was accepted as useful but only as an initial descriptive step. It was conceived as follows :

Thinking of placing the word “Responsibility” in the middle of a field, a first circle can be drawn around it containing verbs/ adjectives / adverbs etc. which are morphologically connected to the word Responsibility in the language concerned (in English e.g. to respond; spouse).

A second (wider) circle drawn around the first one would contain other words (nouns / verbs/ adjectives / expressions / proverbs, etc;) which content-wise are associated with Responsibility (e.g. assume, account for, power, duty, parents, etcetera).

A third circle would refer to a variety of discourses (religious, political (national as well as international authoritative texts), juridical, related to human rights, to traditional cultures, to popular culture, to business, etcetera) and to social practices which illustrate in which ways people are entrusted with responsibility, assume responsibility, carry responsibility, account for responsibility to whom and for what, etcetera. (e.g. rituals; political elections; nominations in functions)

These descriptions should lead to the second step which is the more important part of the research : analysing the constellation of associations thus found. An effort will be made to identify the most important meanings of Responsibility as conceived and enacted in each cultural context. This might help to compare and to establish specificities and common elements.


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