Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel, Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy (2005), Chapters 1-7.

‘Important Insight: this book demonstrates coherent changes are taking place in political, religious, social, and sexual norms throughout post-industrial societies. It presents a model of social change that predicts that socio-economic development results in value changes. And it demonstrates that mass values play a crucial role in the emergence and flourishing of democratic institutions.


Method: looks at national survey results (using WVS data) from 81 states on all six inhabited continents, containing more than 85% of the world’s population.


Critique: not all of the post-materialist values hang together particularly well. For instance, can we draw a meaningful connection between environmentalism and feminism? And to what extent does feminism lack a materialist basis?






*modernization is evolving into a process of human development, in which socio-economic development brings cultural changes that making individual autonomy, gender equality, and democracy increasingly likely, giving rise to a new type of society that promotes human emancipation on many fronts.

*democracy is not simply the result of clever elite bargaining and constitutional engineering. It depends on deep-rooted orientations among the people themselves, which motivate them to demand freedom and responsive government – and to act to ensure that the governing elites remain responsive to them.

*the analytical scheme used for describing the configurations of value orientations involves two dimensions: one of traditional versus secular-rational values and one of survival versus self-expression values.

*the underlying theme of modernization is the broadening of human choice toward an increasingly humanistic society, which is politically compatible only with effective democracy.

*two phases of modernization: Modernization I is interpreted as a consequence of industrialization that nurtured secular-rational values as opposed to traditional values (the importance of God, teaching children obedience and faith rather than independence and determination, disapproval of abortion, support of national pride, respect for authority; Modernization II is interpreted as a consequence of postindustrialization (work force in services, e.g.) triggering self expression values at the expense of survival values (priority for economic and physical security – materialist values, feelings of unhappiness, disapproval of homosexuality, abstaining from signing petitions, distrust of other people).

*modernization in general is driven by economic growth, so that low-income countries are both traditional and care about survival values, and high income countries are the opposite pole on both dimensions.

*former communist societies are products only of Modernization I, characterized by secular-rational and survival values at the same time.

*the most ‘developed’ nations are not the US or the UK with the white Commonwealth states, but the Scandinavian countries and Japan.

*the US has a very high factor score on self-expression, but only a middle one on the traditional versus secular-rational axis.

*the link to democratization is postulated only for the survival/self-expression dimension. They show that self-expression values at the level of the electorate can explain effective democracy better than former experience with democratic institutions, thereby contrasting their own political culture approach to institutionalist theory. They also show that countries where high levels of self-expression values (equated with ‘demand for democracy’) are not matched with equivalent levels of civil liberties and political rights experience the highest increases in democracy.

*The authors distinguish liberal democracy according to the Freedom House index for civil liberties and political rights from effective democracy as the former index multiplied with an index of elite integrity (with anticorruption scores from the World Bank).