1. Measures of perception and the questions we ask
Below are listed measures of perception, of how prime actors view each other, and of how they view the country. Each round, prime actors respond to each other other’s assessments and sometimes change their assessments based on what they learn from each other. Participants in the assessments are formal or informal representatives of prime actors. A named actor becomes a prime actor when they are named as influential in the life of the country by at least two other prime actors. We ask prime actors to assess each other, the country, and each other’s commitment to the ability of the country to adapt.
We ask prime actors to assess each other's:
o Relative influence in the life of the country
We ask prime actors to assess the ability of the country to adapt to threats, in seventeen dimensions:
o Sovereign Capacity: group identity, control of borders, international reputation, government
o Economic, Political, Social, and Cultural Capacity: economy, distribution of power, civil society, technological innovation, arts and humanities, inclusion of marginalized group, status of women, child-rearing practices, religion, collective memory
We ask prime actors to asses threats to the country:
o Threats from people (outsiders, the government, other residents)
o Environmental threats (resource shortages, natural disasters, plagues)
o The threat of global warming
We ask prime actors to assess each other’s commitment to inclusive nationalism for the country. We offer a choice of five commitment stances:
We ask prime actors about how to affect the behavior of certain other actors:
o How to increase the influence of Core prime actors (beginning in Round 2)
o How to decrease the influence of Opposed prime actors (beginning in Round 2)
2.How We Measure Reliability
We combine two factors to measure reliability: the number of prime actors participating in the Sovereignty First framework, and the range of disagreement among different actors’ assessments.
In our experience, information about the economic, political, social, and cultural life of a country, and those who most strongly influence it, is incomplete and biased. It is partial.
This problem is usually dealt with by decision makers in two ways:
1. By seeking narrow, particular information—and avoiding the vital systemic and contextual information about a country and its influences needed to influence a country or situation more predictably and thus more effectively. This narrow approach provides much tactical pre-defined kinds of information, but avoids addressing strategic gaps in information, and is blind to "unknown unknowns."
2. By reliance on the experience and intuition of experts to balance and interpret floods of information. This approach relies on the subjective interpretations of individuals, and is susceptible to their limitations as a single actor, no matter how gifted. There is the additional problem that decision makers lack the ability to distinguish between more and less insightful experts, thus the interpretations of any expert—because decision makers can only trust, and not directly estimate, the quality of insight of an expert—is deeply unreliable.
Our approach is different. We ask prime actors to assess each other and the country, and to inform and correct each other, anonymously. Our approach will generate reliable information over ongoing rounds of interviews and feedback. Early rounds of the Sovereignty First platform produce unreliable information—but not significantly less reliable than the insights of experts, and with more context than those who seek narrow and particular tactical information. After ~10 rounds, a common political and social operating picture begins to emerge.
3. Glossary of Terms
Amount of influence: Each participant rates the actors the list as influential in shaping life in the country. The rating is on an ordinal, 5-point scale: 5 = highly influential, 1 = minimally influential.
Citations: The numbers in parentheses cite the source of each statement while keeping their identity hidden. The Sovereignty First framework separates information from the source of the information, as a way to create safety and encourage a "marketplace of ideas." We can separate statements from their sources without losing important information because of the many prime actors whose knowledge and perceptions correct or balance each other.
Capacity to adapt: The more resources a country is able to access, the better able the country will be to adapt to internal or external threats. We measure 17 dimensions of a country’s capacity to adapt to existential global threats, s on an 8-step hierarchy threats—economic, political, technological, social, and cultural.
Conditional: One of the five commitment stances of a prime actor to inclusive nationalism for the country. The actor helps build the country’s adaptive capacity to the degree the effort doesn't conflict with other interests of the actor. Actors giving conditional support act according to self-interest.
Core: One of the five commitment stances of a prime actor to inclusive nationalism for the country. The actor is completely committed to strengthening the country’s capacity to adapt to threats. This is what the actor stake’s their lives, or at least their careers, on. To be Core, actors are almost always citizens or life-long residents of the country.
Champion: One of the five commitment stances of a prime actor to inclusive nationalism for the country. The actor supports and contributes to the country’s capacity to adapt to threats, but has other priorities as well. This characterizes most well intentioned outside actors, whether other governments or INGOs.
Inclusive nationalism: Inclusiveness assumes that a country can only succeed when everyone has access to the nation’s political, social, and cultural institutions. To be truly inclusive, a country must embrace every person, subgroup, and stakeholder, regardless of religion, minority affiliation, or gender. A politically inclusive government is desirable as it promotes stability. When everyone is represented, with the opportunity to participate in and benefit from the political process, the incentives for violent extremism are reduced, and the government gains legitimacy by valuing the interests of its entire people, not just elites. Economically, a nation also has an incentive to adopt an inclusive approach. Inclusivity leads to more people participating in the workforce, translating to overall increased wealth for the country and a more efficient use of resources. With an increase in wealth across the population, more people are able to invest in their communities and live comfortably, seeing a stake for themselves in the future, which is critical for long-term stability. Yet, inclusivity alone is impractical to govern.
A nation requires a strong sense of shared identity. Borders need to be drawn somewhere, and nationalism helps to define the national identity. Nationalism, then, is necessary for successful governance. It draws a clear distinction for a society, delineating who is and who is not recognized as part of the country. Additionally, nationalism embraces the idea that there should be a shared understanding of, and commitment to, a common social contract. The social contract enables self-governance and development because it sets rules and expectations, and makes the enforcement of agreements possible, whether among citizens or between the government and the people. One of the benefits of nationalism is that both the government and the residents have a better understanding of their role and responsibilities. Yet, a strong sense of identity can result in the exclusion of significant portions of society. Marginalized groups may be treated differently from the majority, which can lead to violence and instability. Therefore, it is imperative that nationalism is counterbalanced with inclusiveness to protect against such disastrous consequences.
Alone, nationalism or inclusivity fail to achieve good governance. But, inclusive nationalism, in a sovereign state, balances the two impulses of inclusion and exclusion, or rights and responsibilities, against each other. The ideal result is a sovereign nation that is self-governing with a healthy sense of its identity, but that embraces all segments of the population.
Motivations: Each participant is asked to asses the commitment of each other actor to inclusive nationalism for the country.
Neutral: One of the five commitment stances of a prime actor to inclusive nationalism for the country. Neutral actors are disengaged from the political and social life of the country, because they are cowed, incapable, or simply not interested.
Opposition: One of the five commitment stances of a prime actor to inclusive nationalism for the country. Opposition actors actively weaken the country’s capacity to adapt to threats.
Prime actors: “Prime actors” are those organizations and people considered the most influential in shaping the life of the country. We only use data in the reports from those people we interview who are prime actors. Prime actors themselves identity other prime actors. (We store data from interviews with people who represent organizations that are not considered prime actors at present. If and when their organization is recognized as a prime actor, their data will be integrated into reports from that time going forward.)
Range of disagreement: We ask prime actors to assess each other and the country, and to inform and correct each other, anonymously. Our approach will generate reliable information over 7-10 rounds. Early rounds of the Sovereignty First framework produce unreliable information—but not significantly less reliable than the insights of experts, and with more context than those who seek narrow and particular tactical information. See “Measuring reliability,” above, for more information.
Why they are important: Each participant is asked why each other prime actor is important. What makes each actor capable of exercising influence?