Research Paper: Values That Drive Human Societies

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[. . .] Duch and Taylor (1993) offered conflicting argument to the idea about the degree to which postmaterialist views are the product of economic security. They found that this was not the case. They found that "early economic conditions do not actually affect how respondents rank Inglehart's postmaterialist items." It should be noted, however, that their survey was on perceptions, rather than actions such as votes. This creates a weakness, in that people may be prone to express postmaterialist as an ideal to which they want to see themselves having, but Duch and Taylor do not examine how this ideal is implemented given economic reality. People might have postmaterialist views even when they are poor, but they might not act on them until they gain in wealth.

Not surprisingly, Duch and Taylor's work was subject to criticism for this fault, in particular from Inglehart. Duch and Taylor (1994) argue that their work is more statistically robust that than of Inglehart, though the critique above notes that all statistical techniques aside, there are notable fundamental flaws in the Duch and Taylor methodology that no amount of mathematical prowess can overcome.

Later studies have focused on this theme of introducing greater statistic rigor to the theory of value change. Clarke et al. (1999) further examine the idea of economic priorities and how those affect value change. They argue that "much of the shift from materialist to postmaterialist values recorded by the Euro-Barometer since the early 1980s is a measurement artifact." This argument rests on changing economic variables. The authors again work on the idea that unemployment is a key variable -- that if a survey on postmaterialism is conducted during times of low unemployment, it will see a shift towards higher postmaterialism, but controlled for unemployment there is much less evidence of such a shift.

Around this time period, critiques of the concept itself were beginning to appear. While to this point, Inglehart's theory had mostly been fodder for discussion about the nature of value change and the role that value change was playing in European political society, Davis, Dowley and Silver (1999) ask the question of whether postmaterialism is a value dimension at all. It cannot lead to value change if it is not a value dimension. This debate arises as a consequence of some of the challenges in trying to understand postmaterialism in the context of established political paradigms -- unfortunately flowing from Inglehart's arguments while ignoring later research that suggests the value change of postmaterialism is not related to established socio-political paradigms. The authors suggest that postmaterialism has been so poorly operationalized in surveys that ae of the responses interpreted to reflect a shift to postmaterialism were nearly random. There was no clear evidence that these societies were postmaterialist, nor that they were even thinking in terms of any sort of concept -- they were responding to one thing and being measured on another.

The idea of postmaterialism been applied to the 21st century context recently. It has been identified that there is now a plurality of worldviews in the advanced nations, representing a shift from a religious-based Judeo-Christian worldview to postmaterialism and beyond to other value changes. Flanagan and Lee (2003) propose that one of these other value changes is along a dimension of authoritarian-libertarian. There is in our society a shift towards libertarian values in Western societies, something that has been governed again by value change. For example, this particular value change is again, like the move to postmaterialism, not along the lines of socioeconomic status, but rather has an asymmetric mobilization of the people. What this means is that people are becoming more aware of issues, and are becoming mobilize to let their views become known. As people who had not previously expressed their views politically become more inclined to do so, there becomes a shift towards value change in society. It requires a certain amount of people supporting an idea for that idea to gain political traction, for example. Thus, once libertarian values -- the authors discuss a variety of items from the so-called culture wars -- gain a large enough body of support, the value change becomes locked into the political system, laws are changed and the value change accelerates. The authors are therefore supporting the idea that the value change paradigm that Inglehart developed in 1971 with postmaterialism can be applied to a number of different value changes in order to understand how society is progressing -- or regressing as the case might be -- with respect to many key political issues.

An interesting further study on this might be to examine the role of media amplification in messages and perceptions. Whereas Flanagan and Lee found an increase in libertarian views, the process by which these views have been ingrained in the political system is uneven at best, with many lawmakers responding to the needs of the vocal minority. This culture clash between generations is perhaps less silent than the original silent revolution that Inglehart described, but the concept of value change still holds weight, and can still be applied to a number of the political problems and value shifts in society that we see today.

References

Blotken, F. & Jagodzinski, W. (1985). In an environment of insecurity: Postmaterialism in the European Community, 1970 to 1980. Comparative Political Studies. Vol. 17 (1985) 453-484.

Clarke, H. & Dutt, N. (1991). Measuring Value Change in Western Industrialized Societies: The Impact of Unemployment. The American Political Science Review. Vol. 85 (3) 905-920.

Clarke, H., Kornberg, A., McIntyre, C., Bauer-Kaase, P. & Kaase, M. (1999). The effect of economic priorities on the Measurement of value change: New experimental evidence. American Political Science Review. Vol. 93 (3) 637-647.

Davis, D., Dowley, K. & Silver, B. (1999). Postmaterialism in world societies: Is it really a value dimension? American Journal of Political Science. Vol. 43 (3) 935-962.

Duch, R. & Taylor, M. (1993). Postmaterialism and economic condition. The American Journal of Political Science. Vol. 37 (3) 747-779.

Duch, R. & Taylor, M. (1994). A reply to Abramson and Inglehart's "Education, security and postmaterialism." The American Journal of Political Science. Vol. 38 (3) 815-824.

Inglehart, R. (1971). The silent revolution in Europe: Intergenerational change in post-industrial societies. The American Political Science Review. Vol. 65 (1971) 991-1017.

Inglehart, R. (1985). New perspectives on value change. Comparative Political Studies. Vol. 17 (4) 485-532.

Inglehart, R. & Flanagan, S. (1979). Value change and partisan change in Japan: The silent revolution revisited. Comparative Politics. Vol 11 (3) 253-278.

Inglehart, R. & Flanagan, S. (1987). Value change in industrial societies.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Values That Drive Human Societies.  (2014, May 23).  Retrieved July 17, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/values-drive-human-societies/9451423

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"Values That Drive Human Societies."  Essaytown.com.  May 23, 2014.  Accessed July 17, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/values-drive-human-societies/9451423.