What Feeds on What? Networks of Interdependencies between Culture and Institutions

Nadia von Jacobi (University of Milan)
Vito Amendolagine (University of Foggia)

Abstract

We propose a methodology inspired by ecology to map the complex interdependencies between cultural and institutional factors - controlling for other socioeconomic and structural characteristics. We characterize interdependencies as asymmetric symbiotic relations, distinguishing between ‘hosts’ that nurture other factors and ‘symbionts’ that reversely feed on the former. We use correlation network analysis to compute a map of multiple such interdependencies for Brazil, which has a vast territory, internally diversified historical paths and a multilevel governance structure. We set the empirical analysis at the municipality level and find that institutional factors tend to be symbionts, whereas cultural factors tend to be hosts. However, our results also show that institutions assume multiple roles within a complex network of interdependencies, often becoming themselves habitat for others or transmittors of indirect effects.

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