Sun Apr 19th, 2009 at 12:16:40 PM EST
This began as a comment to danps' diary on the right's outrage over the DHS report on terrorist threats.
Material here on the World Values Survey was going to be the subject of a longer diary, but I find my time taken these days on the implications on Obama's refusal to indict torturers on our standing in international law. (I'm not a lawyer, so this requires some heavy lifting on my part).
But I introduce you to the World Values Survey now. I find it fascinating in light of the fact that Lisbon failed in Ireland where "traditional" values hold sway over rational empiricism, even more so than in the United States. I found that Jerome's comment on the phrasing in Obama's speech in Strasbourg (I think) about how the US stands with Europe on saving "God's creation" unsurprising, in light of the data presented in the World Values Survey.
My original comment to danps' diary:
I note a broad lack of objectivity (which you correct here) in the statements of the outraged right wing. Are you surprised? On the right, they are "true patriots," so how can they be possibly viewed as a threat? On the left, the meme is that they are "true democrats and egalitarians," with similar assumptions about how near the heart of the American ideal they reside.
Make no mistake about it, this has all the force of religious conflict here in the US, with precious few on either side willing to compromise - willing even to acknowledge that all of us are as American as the opposition. The concept of a loyal opposition hasn't taken hold in the US.
I won't say that Americans can't be rational, but it has been documented that Americans value rationality less than any developed nation save Ireland.
The implications that this study has on diplomacy, foreign policy formation (i.e.: what kind of democracy do we expect in Afghanistan, which, at 28%, has the third lowest literacy rate in the world? Why are Americans incapable of recognizing its utter improbability?), public diplomacy, speechwriting, etc. . . .
My introduction to the World Values Survey was in a chance encounter with a book entitled "Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy by Inglehart and Welzel. It's premise rests on a large foundation of analysis and research which predicts that with economic development, societal changes in values are predictable. By the time a society reaches a post-industrial stage (measured by a significant population employed in the service sector), it should value both self-expressive over survival values, as well as rational over traditional values.
The authors spend considerable effort in the beginning of their book laying the conceptual groundwork for the study. They describe a general two-stage shift that as a society moves from agrarian to industrial, values should shift from traditional to rational, and as an industrial society moves toward a post-industrial service economy, self-expressive values tend to grow.
As I don't have permission to reproduce their cultural map here (this diary is written in haste before work) I can only suggest that you take a quick look at their cultural map. The vertical axis represents how countries score on the traditional-rational scale, and the horizontal axis places countries on the survival-self expressive scale.
[editor's note, by Migeru]
I'm taking the liberty to hotlink to the map
here under fair use
because there's a lot of discussion of it in the comments. The WVS website allows one to download the survey data after all.
The book stresses that modernization does not equate to "westernization" or overcome the history of nations. In other words, development does not seem to "westernize" or "Americanize," rather, it tends to unveil the innate cultural qualities of these nations. In fact, the book states that the US is actually an anomaly, along with Ireland (whose history with the church makes the finding easy to explain), Americans value rational reasoning less than any other country in Europe.
The survey is an ongoing study. The findings thus far are based on four waves of survey data which have taken place over the last decade or so. The implications for all sorts of international activity from advertising goods abroad to the broad sweep of US-EU relations.
As always, your comments are welcome.
Update [2009-4-19 21:25:12 by papicek]: I've saved the kicker to the end. In the book's conclusion, Inglehart and Welzel contend
"As we saw in Chapter 7, effective democracy is very likely to emerge when more than 45% of a society's public ranks high on self-expression values. This is a probablistic relationship, not a deterministic one, but the statistical relationship is very strong. Economic development is conducive to cultural changes that make democracy increasinly probable."
Which is where, of course, this study originates. Self-reinforcing "science?" To some extent, almost certainly. Yet I certainly intend to follow the survey in the coming years. I'll have plenty of time to up my game in statistical analysis, and I intend to do so.