Precocious Enough to Rationalize Culture? Explaining the Success and Failure of Nation-building in Europe, 1400-2000
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Why do some ethnic groups consolidate their cultural practices earlier than others? Extant scholarship in ethnicity, nations, and state-building hypothesizes that the state is the most important determinant. In my dissertation, I argue that it is not the only channel and there are other factors that matter. In three standalone essays, I investigate the role of (1) geography, (2) technology, and (3) public goods provision at the ethnic-group level. I provide a simple conceptual framework of how each of these determinants affects cultural consolidation for ethnic groups. I argue that geographical conditions and technology adoption can have a positive impact on ethnic groups' ability to develop unique cultural attributes without an independent state. Although they may be politically incorporated by stronger groups in the modern period, they still demand self-rule or standardize their vernacular. I also argue that, in contrast with the expectation from the political economy research on ethnicity, cultural consolidation does not always yield public goods provision at the ethnic-group level. I show that leadership in a representative organization plays a key role in making the connection between cultural consolidation and public goods provision. I document evidence by constructing two new data sets on 171 European ethnic groups that exist for 1400--2000 and presenting findings from statistical analysis. In one essay, I also use process-tracing methods to uncover a causal variable that is not captured in quantitative analysis. Findings from my historical analysis have implications for understanding why some ethnic groups can use their culture as a political instrument in contemporary politics more effectively than others. My research demonstrates that the past choices that ethnic groups made prove critical and that these choices were made hundreds of years ago.
- Political science