Thursday, November 7, 2013

11 North American Nations?

No, this is not the premise of a new YA Dystopian novel. It's a theory about the dominant cultures in the US and North America. This article in Tufts Magazine by Colin Woodard presents a more granular look at North American cultures, from the county level instead of the state level, looking at attitudes toward violence. He comes up with 11 nations based on historic settlement patterns (I like the way he names these groups):
  • Yankeedom
  • New Netherland
  • The Midlands
  • Tidewater
  • Greater Appalachia
  • Deep South
  • El Norte
  • The Left Coast
  • The Far West
  • New France
  • First Nation

I think his simple-majority approach to grouping the counties is a bit of a problem. How different would this map look if he left counties white when there was less than an 80% dominance in the trends he is studying?

I would also like to see what happened to the map if he counted suicides along with murders. Recent articles on suicide rates between various US populations has suggested that some homicides are in fact suicidal reckless behavior. It's hard to tease out the "suicide by by homicide" behavior, but adding the suicides in with the homicides might cancel out this effect.

It's an interesting paradigm that bears further investigation. Something to think about in upcoming elections.

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