CRC 1342 Advent Calendar

11 December 2020

New Technical Paper published: Cultural Spheres – Creating a dyadic dataset of cultural proximity

Fabian Besche-Truthe, Helen Seitzer and Michael Windzio have published a paper in the SFB 1342 Technical Paper Series. The author team presents a data driven way to operationalize cultural characteristics of states and cultural similarity between states. Why is this important? The authors are confident that culture is a major factor influencing the developmental paths of states and regions.

Their data set on "cultural spheres" is an innovative tool to describe cultural configurations of nations in a relational way. Countries can be tied by sharing a multitude of cultural characteristics, defined by a variety of variables like dominant religion(s), dominant language, colonial history, gender relations, civil freedom etc. As a result, the user gets a fuzzy typology of cultural spheres. This typology consists of yearly valued networks, spanning a time frame of 1789 until 2010 (see figure 1, the year 2015 as an example). The more of these characteristics two countries share, the more closely connected they are.

Figure 1: Cultural Spheres Network 2015

The approach of Besche-Truthe, Seitzer and Windzio enables researchers to overcome various ways of using proxies to define some sort of cultural categories. Through a relational, additive approach to cultural spheres, the authors offer a tool that is adaptable to different research questions, especially regarding policy diffusion. Their dataset is a first step towards harnessing the ‘culture matters’ proclamation in a standardized, controllable, relational way.

The full paper is availabe for download: Cultural Spheres – Creating a dyadic dataset of cultural proximity

More information on the research of project A05: The Global Development, Diffusion and Transformation of Education Systems