Date of Award

5-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Political Science

Major Professor

Bruce E. Tonn

Committee Members

Patricia K. Freeland, David J. Houston, Robert E. Jones

Abstract

What influences the embassy architecture as expression of political values? For a cross-section of fifteen countries, the author performs linear regression analysis for fifty one embassies from 15 countries in 30 host countries. The measurements for the political values, reflected in embassies, were derived from a specially designed and conducted survey, for which 138 respondents from 14 countries rated buildings on the four political values of tradition, innovation, wealth and security. As explanatory variables, the analysis takes into account the wealth of both countries owning and hosting the respective embassy, domestic politics of the owner country, culture and regionalism. This examination of embassies demonstrates that political values can be measured and thus empirically examined, explained and predicted by different objective factors as well as by cultural affiliations. The major contribution of this study is the empirical support for the designed model for deriving stable measurements of political values. Values expressed in political architecture have the potential to support existing relations, to influence changes in behaviors, processes and activities and even to influence social and political change. The major finding of this study is that the wealth of host country is the single most important predictor of embassy design as reflection of values. Limitations for this study may be considered the use photographs as proxies for embassies, the comparatively small sample size and its Eurocentric focus. Despite these limitations, this study holds promise for a fruitful research agenda for examining first, how and why values change over time; second, how architectural forms support old or influence the occurrence of new and different values and third, if architecture matters, an empirical study of individual perceptions may reveal how architecture is important for different people. While there is substantial scholarship on the politics-architecture nexus, this study compliments this impressive scholarship, demonstrating that values reflected in and through architecture can be examined and measured empirically, and thus predicted by external factors. While values exist throughout all human activity, in architecture they are “frozen” and thus amenable to solid scientific examination because the function of political architecture is politics and the form is value-laden.

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