22 October 2011

Chalk and cheese


"Our Italian colleagues from University of Rome Tor Vergata and University of Parma proposed 
an idea that [as far as] public feelings of security and trust in the judicial system, southern and northern Italy should be treated as two separate countries. 
In their view, they are as different as chalk and cheese: in the northern part,
the sense of necessity in terms of obeying the rules and moral condemnation of corruptive conduct in authoritative organs is much higher than in the South."  



How many 'nations' can a nation contain?  Depends on whom one asks.  Inhabitants of the former Yugoslavia, the former Sudan, the former Rhodesia could perhaps enlighten us.  Or those living in the current Kashmir, or Caucusus, or Flanders.

Richard Griggs and Peter Hocknell have pegged the number of actual nations existing on planet earth at between 6000 and 9000.  Europe alone, they say, is home to over one hundred.  Lines drawn on maps by generals and statesmen tell us lies and half-truths.  One nation, different beliefs, different values, different characters: What can a map really tell us?

Here, for example, is the nation known as the Italian Republic:






What is a nation?  By what can national or cultural values be measured?  By the relatively successful functioning of one's institutions?


By one's measured public corruption levels?
[higher score = lower corruption]

Golden, Miriam and Picci, Lucci, 'Proposal for a New Measure of Corruption, Illustrated with
Italian Data,' Economics & Politics, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 37-75, March 2005.


By the nepotism levels reigning in academia?

 
Data source: Stefano Allesina, "Measuring Nepotism Through Shared Last Names: The Case of Italian Academia,"  PLoS ONE 6(8): e21160. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021160


By one's monetary wealth-producing capacity?

Data source: Eurostat


By one's arrival at widespread literacy?

Emmanuel Todd, 'L'Invention de l'Europe' (The Invention of Europe), Paris:  Seuil, 2e edition, 1996.


One's performance on standardized tests?

Map by A Reluctant Apostate, data from OECD

What can one's electoral history tell us about values, past and present?






  Three above maps from Emmanuel Todd, 'L'Invention de l'Europe' (The Invention of Europe), Paris:  Seuil, 2e edition, 1996.



Is there a causal relationship, in either direction, between our government systems and us?



Putnam, Robert D., Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy,  Princeton University Press, 1994.


What does how we say we would like to be ruled say about us?


What about that of our history of civic functioning?



Can our marriage practices tell us anything about who we are and what we value?

 Data source (average 1930-34 and 1960-64), drawn from Cafalli-Sforza et al. 
Further analysis at HBD chick 



Difficult as ever to say what makes a 'nation,' what lines one can draw around it, what it believes, what it values, from whence its values come.


Nation and 'nation' will shift again, as they long have.

It would behoove us not to conflate the two.

6 comments:

hbd chick said...

"Is there a causal relationship, in either direction, between our government systems and us?"

i think the answer to that is 'yes' -- and that the causal relationship goes both ways.

when i started reading about inbreeding and outbreeding and all that stuff, i thought that it was probably the case that muslims were muslims because of how inbred they are, and christians are christians because of how outbred they are.

then i learned that it was actually the church that manipulated the mating patterns of europeans (and other populations). what a surprise that was for me!

i still think that a lot of the characteristics of certain sects of islam (particularly in the arab world, middle east, & south asia) stem from the mating patterns in those populations, and that a lot of the characteristics of european christianity (or what's left of it) stem from our mating patterns.

but now i understand that these things feed into one another in a great, big feedback loop. the nature of a people feeds its culture (which includes things like religion and gov't systems), and those things in turn feed back into the nature of the people.

in other words, it's complicated! (^_^)

(see, i'm not such a genetic determinist after all! (~_^) )

M.G. said...

Indeed, it is endlessly complex... No institution functions exactly the same way in two places, nor can it, not until we all become one big magically homogeneous people. How much energy could be saved if policy makers accepted this, instead of endlessly and fruitlessly fighting it.

The Reluctant Apostate said...

While I was looking for the name of a former Italian province [Istria] in order to comment on hbd chick's post referencing this post, I came across this map of the referendum that abolished the Italian monarchy on Wikipedia. I thought it was an interesting juxtaposition with the other politically related maps.

On a side note, I have to give you a thumbs up on how you rendered the PISA map. I know that the light silhouette on dark textured background set-up that I have on my blog doesn't translate well onto the color schemes on most other sites, so I think that you had a pretty clever workaround there.

M.G. said...

I came across this map of the referendum that abolished the Italian monarchy on Wikipedia.

Thank you, I've added it after the 'Republic and Autocratic Traditions in 1300' map (modified to single-tint...I know the two-tint maps are popular, but I find them visually confusing). How surprisingly little things change in 600 years!

Your map template is quite pleasing to the eye and I think it renders very well here.

hbd chick said...

that's a lot of first-cousin marriage in sicily, all right!

isn't umbria a curious little province with so low a consanguinity rate so far to the south? wonder what's going on there?

M.G. said...

wonder what's going on there?

Umbria's average was only 3.89% (Perugia/Terni provinces), one of the lowest, and that was true even back in the 1910s.

Lombardy was a bit high for the north (8.16%); Calabria (32.5%) and Sicily (41.49%) were highest overall. (Sardinia = not even half of Sicily's rate, at 19.54%.)

If I had more time, I would weight each province's score according to its population (may still in the future). This is just a quick-and-dirty geographical averaging. Cafalli-Sforza has done such fine work on Italy, I would love to see these numbers for other Catholic countries like Spain or Portugal.