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Notes on Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy (Inglehart and Welzel 2005)

March 13, 2010

Source: Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel, Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy. New York, Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Conclusion to A Revised Theory of Modernization chapter, pp. 46-47

1. Socioeconomic development, in probabilistic terms, ‘tends to make people more secular, tolerant, and trusting and to place more emphasis on self-expression, participation, and the quality of life’.

2. No global cultural convergence in sight – religion and other traditions not disappearing.

3. Cultural modernization is reversible, e.g. post-socialist Europe.

4. Cultural change is a non-linear process. Post-industrialization moves on from industrialization’s processes of rationalizaton, centralization and bureaucratization towards ever more stress on self-expression and individual autonomy.

5. Modernization not the same as Westernization. USA not a typical example of cultural change, indeed an anomaly in its religious and traditional values.

6. Rise of self-expression values giving rise to ‘a new type of humanistic society that promotes human emancipation’, e.g. gays, women, the disabled.  Centrality of cultural change to emergence and maintenance of democracy has been downplayed in previous theories.


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