Multidimensional Similarities at a Global Scale: An Approach to Mapping Open Society Orientations

This paper analyzes the global geography of open society orientations in the sense of Karl Popper’s notion of open society, by means of a database consisting of five common, public and widely used indicators such as UNDP’s Human Development Index, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index, Reporters Sans Frontieres’ Press Freedom Index, and Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. We carry out a cluster analysis based on the Self-Organizing Map (SOM) technique, and find that the geography of open society orientation organizes globally into four main clusters with distinctive socio-economic characteristics. We discuss the implications of the clusterization and find that it provides interesting insight also as to the post-2008 response of countries to the global financial crisis.

Article by Massimo Buscema, Pier Luigi Sacco, Guido Ferilli
Published in Social Indicators Research 2015 – DOI 10.1007/s11205-015-1077-4

From the Conclusions (excerpt)
(…) At the global level, the classification in terms of risk and sustainability of the already cited Fragile States Index for 2014 once again proves to be closely coherent with our clusters based upon the 2007 data; in particular, with a few exceptions, it distinguishes quite accurately among countries that belong to the top cluster of the open society ranking and countries that rank high but in the second best cluster. The exceptions themselves are so rare and specific (Czech Republic in a positive sense and Spain in a negative one) to strongly reassess the solidity of the 2007 clusterization, and in particular the fact that reactivity to the shocks has been basically determined by the pre-existing socio-economic architecture as described by our set of indicators.
Another very relevant element is the fact that, in the 2007 picture, we find again a very clear-cut distinction between relatively authoritative and non-authoritative emerging (BRICS-MINT) countries, with India, China, Russia, Nigeria and Mexico falling in the first category and Turkey, Brazil, and South Africa in the second (whereas Indonesia sits in the bottom cluster). As of today, the picture would probably reflect the fact that also the emerging countries that previously presented a relatively non-authoritative style of governance are today shifting toward the other hand—and this is certainly true for Turkey. Another remarkable element is the inclusion of Argentina in the bottom cluster as of 2007—a situation determined by the disastrous socio-economic crisis of the early 00s, but that today would probably shift toward the non-authoritative emergent cluster.(…).

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