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Modernization, Cultural Change, and the Persistence of Traditional Values*

Modernization, Cultural Change, and the Persistence of Traditional Values* Modernization theorists from Karl Marx to Daniel Bell have argued that economic development brings pervasive cultural changes. But others, from Max Weber to Samuel Huntington, have claimed that cultural values are an enduring and autonomous influence on society. We test the thesis that economic development is linked with systematic changes in basic values. Using data from the three waves of the World Values Surveys, which include 65 societies and 75 percent of the world's population, we find evidence of both massive cultural change and the persistence of distinctive cultural traditions. Economic development is associated with shifts away from absolute norms and values toward values that are increasingly rational, tolerant, trusting, and participatory. Cultural change, however, is path dependent. The broad cultural heritage of a society—Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Confucian, or Communist—leaves an imprint on values that endures despite modernization. Moreover, the differences between the values held by members of different religions within given societies are much smaller than are cross-national differences. Once established, such cross-cultural differences become part of a national culture transmitted by educational institutions and mass media. We conclude with some proposed revisions of modernization theory. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Sociological Review SAGE

Modernization, Cultural Change, and the Persistence of Traditional Values*

American Sociological Review , Volume 65 (1): 33 – Feb 1, 2000

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References (62)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© 2000 American Sociological Association
ISSN
0003-1224
eISSN
1939-8271
DOI
10.1177/000312240006500103
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Modernization theorists from Karl Marx to Daniel Bell have argued that economic development brings pervasive cultural changes. But others, from Max Weber to Samuel Huntington, have claimed that cultural values are an enduring and autonomous influence on society. We test the thesis that economic development is linked with systematic changes in basic values. Using data from the three waves of the World Values Surveys, which include 65 societies and 75 percent of the world's population, we find evidence of both massive cultural change and the persistence of distinctive cultural traditions. Economic development is associated with shifts away from absolute norms and values toward values that are increasingly rational, tolerant, trusting, and participatory. Cultural change, however, is path dependent. The broad cultural heritage of a society—Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Confucian, or Communist—leaves an imprint on values that endures despite modernization. Moreover, the differences between the values held by members of different religions within given societies are much smaller than are cross-national differences. Once established, such cross-cultural differences become part of a national culture transmitted by educational institutions and mass media. We conclude with some proposed revisions of modernization theory.

Journal

American Sociological ReviewSAGE

Published: Feb 1, 2000

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