Integrity of a National Cultural Space: an Intrinsic Feature or a Desirable Goal?

UDC 159.923.2:316.42

Oleksandr Grytsenko
Ph.D., Institute for Cultural Research,
National Academy of Arts of Ukraine, Kyiv

Abstract. The article proposes a critical overview of the development of theoretical conceptualization of national culture and national cultural space, based on the concepts of public sphere, civil society, the civilizing process (J. Habermas, J. Kean, N.Elias and others), on theories of nation as a cultural/communicative community (A. Smith, K. Deutsch, B. Anderson and others) which suggest that a nation is a communicative group characterized by unity of its culture as a system of several building blocks (such as language, literature and arts, rites and beliefs, as well as national social, political, economic, cultural institutions) which are supposed to be complimentary. Where such complimentarity (or integrity of sorts) is not achieved, nations tend to fall apart.

This issue is very important for Ukraine, where processes of modern nation-building (and modern national culturebuilding as well) have been much more bumpy than in most European nations. Contemporary globalization, controversial by its nature and characterized by its disjuncture (A. Appadurai), adds still more complications, transforming the very notions of national culture and inter-cultural communication/ and arguably bringing about ‘new feudalization’.

A concept of national cultural space can be useful in theorizing these phenomena and understanding them. It is based on a familiar but blurry notion of public space, defined by J. Kean as

“a particular type of spatial relationship between two or more people, connected by a certain means of communication (TV, radio, satellite, telephone, email etc) in which non-violent controversies erupt …concerning the power relations within their given milieu of interaction and/or within the wider milieux of social and political structures within which the disputants are situated”.

It is apparent that much of these ‘disputations’ in a specific society are shaped by its culture and have an incarnation of cultural communication. Using J.Kean’s typology of micro-public, meso-public and macro-public spheres, the author proposes a definition of national cultural sphere as a totality of micro-public and meso-public spheres that exist within a nation-state, with their audiences and communication channels (networks).

What remains outside national cultural space? Mostly global macro-public spheres which interact with the nation in question, but also those public spaces which do not identify themselves with this nation-state and its culture. These ‘new feuds’ might look to some like mere manifestations of society’s diversity. In times of crisis, however, they might not only undermine the integrity of national cultural space but also facilitate violent conflicts.

Integrity of national cultural space is understood here as a quality whereby the above-mentioned totality of public spaces (those that identify themselves with the nation in question) covers all of the nation-state and all (or at least most) of its citizens. The unity of language is helpful but not necessary, the unity of ideology (sometimes called the national idea) is not needed, a requirement of this kind can even be harmful for the integrity.

The article also tries to clarify the relations/differences between the proposed concept of national cultural space and the previously developed concepts of completeness of national literature/culture (D. Czyzhevsky) and of structural integrity (‘povnostrukturnist’) of national culture (I. Dziuba).

Both of the mentioned theories seem to envisage an ideal of national culture whereby all cultural/artistic demands of the society are served by its national cultural product, and the national language serves as the core element and main identifying feature of it. This ideal cannot be practically achieved in contemporary globalized world.

Keywords: cultural space, public sphere, national culture, identity, mass media, cultural goods, globalization, integrity of national cultural space.


Habermas, J. Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit. Untersuchungen zu eine Kategorie der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft. – Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Mein, 1962. Habermas J. Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit. Untersuc-hungen zu eine Kategorie der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft. – Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Mein, 1962.

Grytsenko, O. Kul’turna transormatsiia v suchasnii Ukraini: osnovni chynnyky ta zahal’nyi kharakter zmin. // V Kulturologichni chytan-nia pamiati V.Podkopaieva “Kulturologichnyi dyskurs suchasnoho svitu”. Zbirnyk materialiv Vseukrains’koi naukovoi konferentsii. Kyiv, 1-2.06.2007. – Kyiv: Millenium, 2007. – p. 20–31.

Dziuba, I. Chy usvidoml’uiemo natsional’nu kul’turu iak tsilisnist’ ? // Ukraina. Nauka i Kul’tura, 1988. – p. 309–323.

Dziuba, I. Globalizatsiia i maibutnie kul’tury // Kul’turologichna dumka. – 2009 – № 1 – p. 27–33.

Yevtukh, V. Ethnosuspil’ni protsesy v Ukraini. Mozhlyvosti nauko-vykh interpretatsii. – Kyiv: Stylos, 2004. – 243 p.

Keane, J. Civil Society: Old Images, New Visions. – Cambridge: Polirty Press, 1998. – 202 p.

Kulyk, V. Dyskurs ukrains’kykh media: identychnosti, ideologii, vladni stosunky – Kyiv: Krytyka, 2010. – 654 p.

Cultural Policy in Ukraine. National Report (prepared by task force of the Ukrainian Centre for Cultural Studies. Task force leader Oleksan-dr Grytsenko) – Council of Europe, Steering Committee for Culture, CDCULT (2007)14 – 125 p.

Lull, James. Media, Communication, Culture. A Global Approach – Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995. – 208 p.

Riabchuk, M. Vid Malorisii do Ukrainy. – Kyiv: Krytyka, 2000. – 304 p.

Riabchuk, M. Dvi Ukrainy: real’ni mezhi, virtual’ni viiny. – Kyiv: Krytyka, 2003. – 336 p.

Riabchuk, M. Ambivalentnyi dyskurs ambivalentnoi transformatsii. // Ukraina Moderna – 2010. – № 5 (16). – p. 113–152.

Smith, Antony D. The Ethnic Origins of Nations. – Oxford: Black-well, 1986. – 312 p.

Spil’na identychnist’ hromadian Ukrainy. Analitychni materially dlia obhovorennia na Kruhlomu stoli “Regoiny Ukrainy: perspekty-vy iednannia, shl’akhy formuvannia spil’noi identychnosti” // Centr O.Razumkova – Kyiv: 2006. – 75 p.

Strikha, M. Mova. // Narysy Ukrains’koi popularnoi kul’tury (ed. O.Grytsenko) – Kyiv: UCKD, 1998 – p. 414–421.

Czyzhevs’kyi, D. Istoria Ukrains’koi literatury. – Ternopil’: Femina, 1994. – 352 p.

Anderson, B. Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism. – London: Verso, 1991.

Appadurai A. Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy / in: M. Featherstone (ed.) Global Culture: Nationalism, Glo-balization and Modernity. – Sage, London, 1990 – p. 298-315

Deutsch, Karl W. Nationalism and Social Communication. The Inquiry into the Foundation of Nationality. – MIT Press, Cambridge Mass., 1966.

Hrytsenko O. Imagining the Community: Perspectives on Ukraine’s Ethno-cultural Diversity // Nationalities Papers – vol. 36, Issue 2, 2008 – p. 197–222.

Hrytsenko О. Culture as a Nation-building Tool in Contemporary Ukraine // Journal of Ukrainian Studies, 26. – No 1-2, Summer-Winter – 2001. – p. 224–236.

Kloskowska, A. Kultury narodowe u korzeni. – Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1996 – 360 s.

Kymlicka, W. Western Political Theory and Ethnic Relations in Eastern Europe – in: // W. Kymlicka and M. Opalski (eds), Can Liberal-ism Be Exported? – Oxford Univ. Press, 2001.

Lotman, Yuri. Universe of the Mind. – London: Tauris, 1990. – 250 p.

Panina N. Ukrainian Society. Sociological monitoring. 1994-2005. – Kyiv: Institute of Sociology, 2005.

Tomlinson J. Cultural Imperialism – London: Pinter Publi-shers, 1991.