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By Maerten Herman Prins.

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These clusters are referred to as ‘faculty cultures’ because they largely match up with the division into faculties. Both universities have the same faculty cultures: medicine, natural sciences, policy sciences, social sciences, humanities and theology. Similar faculty cultures were found in earlier research in the United States (Gaff and Wilson, 1971), suggesting that this is a Western cultural phenomenon. The existence of faculty cultures is often dismissed as unimportant (Clark, 1987). However, it needs to be realized that such cultural differences, which may take the form of what Bourdieu has termed a ‘habitus’, may impede interdisciplinary contact between different research fields.

Young students do not by definition form a homogeneous group. Student populations are made up of clusters. Earlier research at the University of Nijmegen revealed clusters which were referred to as university or faculty cultures. Students studying in different faculties turned out to form clusters based on characteristics - such as political orientation - that were unconnected with the subjects they were studying. Subject areas display similarities that extend beyond their specific content and into the cultural field (Huber, 1990).

However, the various cross-cultural studies compare either the whole of Belgium with the whole of the Netherlands, or Flanders with the whole of the Netherlands. Welten’s study (1977) is an example of the latter. It purports to compare young Flemings with young Dutch people in general, but the sample does not include any young people from the southern Netherlands, a flaw pointed out by Snijders (1977). It is interesting to know whether the cultural differences are nationally or regionally determined.

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