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Value Change in Global Perspective

Paul R. Abramson and Ronald Inglehart

Publication Year: 1995

In this pioneering work, Paul R. Abramson and Ronald Inglehart show that the gradual shift from Materialist values (such as the desire for economic and physical security) to Post-materialist values (such as the desire for freedom, self-expression, and the quality of life) is in all likelihood a global phenomenon. Value Change in Global Perspective analyzes over thirty years worth of national surveys in European countries and presents the most comprehensive and nuanced discussion of this shift to date. By paying special attention to the way generational replacement transforms values among mass publics, the authors are able to present a comprehensive analysis of the processes through which values change. In addition, Value Change in Global Perspective analyzes the 1990-91 World Values Survey, conducted in forty societies representing over seventy percent of the world's population. These surveys cover an unprecedentedly broad range of the economic and political spectrum, with data from low-income countries (such as China, India, Mexico, and Nigeria), newly industrialized countries (such as South Korea) and former state-socialist countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. This data adds significant new meaning to our understanding of attitude shifts throughout the world. Value Change in Global Perspective has been written to meet the needs of scholars and students alike. The use of percentage, percentage differences, and algebraic standardization procedures will make the results easy to understand and useful in courses in comparative politics and in public opinion. Paul R. Abramson is Professor of Political Science, Michigan State University. Ronald Inglehart is Professor of Political Science and Program Director, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan.

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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pp. ix-xi

This book is the product of a long but sporadic collaboration, for the two authors have been working together off and on for over a quarter of a century. We met at a conference on political socialization in Ann Arbor in the summer of 1967. That meeting led to a jointly authored article, which was published in 1970. In that same year, the first European Community survey measured...

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1. Studying Political Values

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pp. 1-8

Over two decades ago, Ronald Inglehart (1971) proposed a theory of value change that predicted value priorities in advanced industrial societies would tend to shift away from "Materialist" concerns about economic and physical security, toward a greater emphasis on freedom, self-expression, and the quality of life, or "Postmaterialist" values. Arguing that differences between ...

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2. Value Trends in Western Europe and the United States

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pp. 9-24

Inglehart's value-change thesis assumes that the economic security created by advanced industrial societies gradually changes the goal orientations of mass publics. In this process, an emphasis on economic security gradually fades, and universal but often latent needs for belonging, esteem, and the realization of individual intellectual potential become increasingly prominent. Although ...

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3. Short-Term Value Change in Western Europe

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pp. 25-40

Inglehart's theory predicts both short- and long-term changes in values. He advances two hypotheses that account for variation in Materialist/Postmaterialist values: (1) a scarcity hypothesis stating that "an individual's priorities reflect one's socioeconomic environment" and (2) a "socialization" hypothesis that postulates "to a large extent, one's basic values reflect the conditions that ...

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4. Long-Term Value Change in Western Europe

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pp. 41-74

The long-term trend toward Postmaterialist values results largely from the gradual process by which younger generations replace older generations. Generational replacement continuously transforms all societies. Replacement can play a major role in transforming the political attitudes and behaviors among mass publics. During the 1930s and 1940s, replacement helped make ...

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5. Education, Security, and Postmaterialism in Western Europe

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pp. 75-88

Generational replacement contributes to the trend toward Postmaterialism. Moreover, in most societies Europeans do not become more Materialist as they age. Clearly, there are persistent cohort differences. However, there are conflicting explanations for the intergenerational shift toward Postmaterialist values. Inglehart has argued that young cohorts differ from their elders be ...

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6. The Future of Postmaterialism in Western Europe

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pp. 89-96

Just as algebraic techniques can be used to estimate the past impact of replacement in Western Europe, so can they be employed to estimate its future impact (see Abramson and Inglehart 1987, 1992; Inglehart 1990). In fact, these projections can be made even if one does not accept Inglehart's explanation for age-group differences. As we saw in chapter 5, Raymond M. Duch and ...

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7. The Structure of Values on Five Continents

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pp. 97-122

As we have seen, there is a trend toward Postmaterialism in Western Europe, and future generational replacement is likely to continue to push overall levels of Postmaterialism upward. There also appears to be a trend toward Postmaterialism in the United States. However, Inglehart's thesis suggests that the forces that contribute to Postmaterialist values should operate in all societies ...

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8. Economic Security and Value Change on Five Continents

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pp. 123-138

As was argued in chapter 7, the value-change thesis implies that the shift from Materialist to Postmaterialist values is potentially a universal process: it should occur in any country that moves from conditions of economic security to relative security, although during a transitional process older generations will continue to reflect the conditions that characterized their preadult ...

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9. Conclusions

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pp. 139-146

Throughout this book we have argued that value change is a function of both short-term and long-term forces. Because only data over time can document a trend, most of our analyses focus on eight Western European societies for which we have many surveys over a period of two decades. In chapter 2, we clearly document a sharp increase in Postmaterialism in Denmark, and a clear ...

Appendix: Distribution of the Adult Population in Eight Western European Societies, by Years of Birth

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pp. 147-160


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pp. 161-168


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pp. 169-176


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pp. 177-180

E-ISBN-13: 9780472022397
E-ISBN-10: 0472022393
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472065912
Print-ISBN-10: 0472065912

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: tables, figures
Publication Year: 1995

OCLC Number: 593239812
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Value Change in Global Perspective

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Subject Headings

  • Europe -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • Social values -- Europe.
  • Social surveys -- Europe.
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