Particular Universality: Science, Culture, and Nationalism in Australia, Canada, and the United States, 1915-1960
This dissertation examines offers a corrective to the world polity theory of globalization, which posits increasing convergence on a single global cultural frame. In contrast, I suggest that national culture limits the adoption of "world culture" by actors and institutions. Instead of adopting world cultural models wholesale, they are adapted through a process I call translated global diffusion. In order to assess my theory, I follow the creation and development of organizations founded by Australia, Canada, and the United States to foster scientific development within their borders. All three national organizations were initiated around 1915, part of an international wave of state science that prima facie appears to support the world polity thesis.
Through a comparative historical analysis that combines archival material and secondary histories from each case, I demonstrate that concerns tied to national identity mediate the incorporation of models sanctioned as part of a "world cultural canopy" of institutional scripts. More specifically, federal legislatures circumscribe new organizations to fit preexisting ideas of proper government. Secondly, the scientists effectively running state science organizations negotiate often conflicting nationalistic and professional impulses. Finally, the national news media report about science in a selective and nationally filtered way. The result is a kind of particular universality, science layered with national import only fully visible from within the nation-state.
Comparative Historical Sociology
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