Nations as Gravitational Fields of Culture: In Defence of "Nationology"
Nations have been questioned as meaningful units for analyzing culture. Against this skepticism, we underline that culture is always a collective phenomenon, commonly understood as the prevalent values in a population that form its mentality and identity in differentiation from others. Nations are population entities that are manifest in states as their organizational frame, in countries as their territorial space, and in national identity as their psychological glue. Territorial in character,
... rial in character, nations form spatial fields of 'cultural gravitation.' Above and beneath nations, other spatial fields of cultural gravitation exist, like sub-national regions (beneath) and geo-political areas (above). There are also non-spatial forces of cultural gravitation, including language, ethnicity, religion, social class, gender, and generation. To operationalize nations as gravitational fields of culture, we look at them in terms of their central tendencies and these tendencies' densities and variance-binding powers, rather than understanding nations as monolithic and closed cultural containers. Because national culture is foundational for societal institutions and guides individuals' behavior, it is of intrinsic interest for the social sciences to study culture at the nation-level, even in the presence of internal heterogeneity and cross-border similarity. Whenever of interest, sub- and supra-national cultural groups as well as non-spatial cultural groups should also be studied, but our theoretical framework warrants the use of nations as meaningful gravitational units for analyzing the dimensions and dynamics of culture.