Do Changing Values Explain the New Politics? A Critical Assessment of the Postmaterialist Thesis

Clem Brooks, Jeff Manza

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Many social scientists have argued that major political changes have occurred in the postindustrial societies of Western Europe, North America, and Australasia since the 1960s. These changes include partisan dealignment accompanied by a breakdown in traditional political orientations, the appearance of “new social movements,” and increasing use of non‐traditional forms of political action. One of the most influential account of the origins of the “New Politics” is Ronald Inglehart's “postmaterialist” thesis. Analyzing data from the Political Action surveys, we test two central propositions of the postmaterialist thesis: that postmaterialism constitutes an emerging and categorically distinct type of value commitment in these societies; and that a commitment to postmaterialism leads to a rejection of the state as a means of accomplishing policy objectives. Neither of these propositions is supported. The analyses instead provide evidence for an alternative account that we characterize as “value pluralism,” and they show further that even citizens with postmaterialist values endorse the intervention of state institutions to achieve desired political outcomes.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)541-570
    Number of pages30
    JournalSociological Quarterly
    Volume35
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Nov 1994

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science

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