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Values and Public Opinion

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Presentation on theme: "Values and Public Opinion"— Presentation transcript:

1 Values and Public Opinion
Andreea Moldovan and Alexandru Cernat

2 Modernization and Postmodernization
Ronald Inglehart Modernization and Postmodernization

3 Modernization Modernisation:
“a process that increases the economic and political capabilities of a society: it increases economic capabilities through industrialization, and political capabilities though bureaucratization” industrialization -> increase urbanization, occupation specialization, bureaucratization and higher levels of formal education -> mass political participation Leads to richer societies Shift from traditional to rational-legal values Great predictive power

4 Why the change? Diminished marginal utility of modernization
Bureaucratic institutions reached their functional and public acceptance limits (e.g., URSS) Economic “miracles” and the welfare state -> Creation of new needs (post WW2 generations the first without survival needs)

5 Intergenerational value change
A combination of two processes: Scarcity theory Socialization theory Postmodernization became predominant after the post WW2 children grew up

6 Postmodernization The result of : conquering basic human needs
acquisition of wealth through industrialization More emphasis on: Individual autonomy Diversity Self-expression Selective traditions and new myths are valorised Quality of life over economic achievement

7 Other effects of postmodernization
The Risk Society -> risk is more dispersed and unpredictable Losing important security enhancing institutions (e.g., religion) Less emphasis and trust in politic and scientific authority Decline in the importance of the family institution

8 Postmodernisation and politics
Long established political parties are eroding Participation moving from voting to issue specific participation Move from class-based politics to cultural and quality of life policies Quality of life over economic growth as priority

9 Prediction of postmodern theory
More PM values in rich and secure countries More PM values for rich, secure and educated people Prosperity -> increase in PM values and the reverse When economic growth and security are growing there is big difference in values between generations

10 Test theoretical model
Using 40 societies (70% of world pop.) in 25 years Economic growth is conductive to subjective well-being until the point of diminishing returns Cultures (survival strategies) reacts to change of context

11 A Hierarchical model of attitude constraint
Peffley, Mark and Hurwitz, Jon A Hierarchical model of attitude constraint

12 Converse theory about restrictions
Converse’s perspective regarding constrain of the belief system: Issue constraint (consistency between concrete issue positions) Ideological constraint (relationship between abstract and concrete views) Previous findings suggests lack of consistency and sophistication in the public Problem regarding evidence so far: Based on correlation Not appropriate for constraints Not appropriate for multiple dimensions

13 Solution Hierarchical model of ideological constraint

14 Data and measures Random sample of adults in Minneapolis and St. Paul in Sample size = 331

15 Conclusions The public is more sophisticated and consistent than previously thought Correlations between items are explained by the higher order factors Correlations underestimate the degree of constraint Other observations General social moral attitudes not part of liberalism-conservatism Racial and economic attitudes are not independent

16 Configuration of Values in British Electorate 1986-2007
Paula Surridge Configuration of Values in British Electorate

17 Values in Britain Interested in “core values” or “belief system” and their evolution Problems: Cannot be observed directly Left-right measures versus multi-dimensional We don’t know how they evolved in UK

18 Value change Although more stable than attitudes still interest in change Models of change: Core values remain the same: people move on a stable continuum (left-right perspective) New values develop (e.g., postmaterialist values) Mechanism of change: Values are transmitted from elites to the public (Converse) Change in younger generations (greater security in formative years) (Inglehart) Diminished marginal utility for redistribution -> now argued as social justice (Inglehart) Converse on belief system: “A configuration of ideas and attitudes in which the elements are bound together by some form of constraint”

19 Proposed measure and data
Measurement - two dimensional perspective (Heath et al., 1994): Left-right (on economic power and equality) Authoritarian-liberal (related to personal liberty) Data: British Social Attitudes series – Method: Confirmatory factor analysis

20 Questions used Left-right scale:
Ordinary working people do not get their fair share of the nation’s wealth Big business benefits owners at the expense of workers Government should redistribute income from the better-off to those who are less well off There is one law for the rich and one for the poor Management will always try to get the better of employees if it gets the chance Authoritarian-liberal scale: Censorship of films and magazines is necessary to uphold moral standards Schools should teach children to obey authority Young people today don’t have enough respect for traditional British values People who break the law should be given stiffer sentences For some crimes, the death penalty is the most appropriate sentence The law should always be obeyed even if a particular law is wrong

21 CFA model

22 Results – changes in structure
The items: “Government should redistribute income from the better-off to those who are less well off” “Management will always try to get the better of employees if it gets the chance” are each significantly related to the authoritarian-liberal scale Correlation between the two dimensions increases - increased relationship between left and authoritarian

23 CFA model - crossloading

24 Results – changes in groups
Change by party Change of elite discourse does not explain change in structure Change by age No differences in age groups in structure Change by social class Logic of redistribution different for middle class

25 So how do core beliefs and values influence political opinions?
Policy preferences, performance judgements, candidate assessments are all political evaluations (Feldman, 1988) These are made on the basis of a number of criteria such as self interest, group identifications and political events So important to note that public attitudes are not completely structured by beliefs and values

26 Origin of people’s values and beliefs
Political culture ‘ set of widely shared beliefs, values, and norms concerning the relationship of citizens to their government and to one another in matters affecting public affairs’ (McClosky and Zaller, 1984) Maintained over time by the persistence of institutions and policies and by the strong commitment of political elites People acquire/absorb them through socialisation and continual reinforcement by the norms of society and the language of political debate

27 Three core beliefs (Feldman, 1988)
Support for economic individualism ( the belief that people should get ahead on their own through hard work) Belief in equality of opportunity ( interpreted as formal or political equality rather than equality of results; derived from the individualistic tradition) Support for the free enterprise system(generally accompanied by a distrust of big government)

28 Continued The commitment to these beliefs is not uniformly distributed within the public ( McClosky and Zaller, 1984) To the extent that such differences exist, they could help account for variations in policy preferences, political evaluations, and candidate preference So rather than structuring specific attitudes around overarching ideological principles, people may rely on specific values and beliefs to make sense of the political world

29 Continued… To some extent, policies are judged right or wrong because of their implications for deeply held values Values and beliefs do not form an integrated ideology- in the mass electorate they are only weakly associated with each other Stability over time is a crucial element Core beliefs and values have predictive power

30 Value choice and attitudes
there are meaningful individual value hierarchies value preferences do have a direct impact on issue attitudes within the mass public BUT extreme variability in value choices values do not seem to provide a general attitude formation routine for relatively unsophisticated citizens who are less attentive to ideological abstractions and other such political cues analysts should be hesitant to grant core personal values any particular theoretical primacy within scholarly representations of political behaviour (Jaccoby, 2006)

31 Socialist/laissez-faire scale
1989 British Social Attitudes Survey – panel section ( Heath, Evans, Martin, 1994) Socialist/laissez-faire scale Collectivism and individualism, government intervention and free enterprise, economic and political equality 2)Liberation/authoritarian values scale ( rather low internal reliability) Freedom of thought and conscience, freedom of association, freedom to pursue one’s own course of life

32 Socialist/laissez-faire scale items
Ordinary people get their fair share of the nation's wealth There is one law for the rich and one for the poor There is no need for strong trade unions to protect employees' working conditions and wages It is government's responsibility to provide a job for everyone who wants one Private enterprise is the best way to solve Britain's economic problems Major public services and industries ought to be in state ownership.

33 Liberation/authoritarian scale items(short)
Young people today don't have enough respect for traditional British values Censorship of films and magazines is necessary to uphold moral standards People in Britain should be more tolerant of those who lead unconventional lives Homosexual relations are always wrong People should be allowed to organize public meetings to protest against the government Even political parties that wish to overthrow democracy should not be banned.


35 socialist/laissez-faire values are more closely related to class, income and housing tenure
libertarian/authoritarian values are more closely related to age, education and religion people with higher incomes tend to have laissez-faire values because of the correlation between income and higher education, they also tend to have libertarian values rather than authoritarian ones

36 education, same pattern - people with higher levels of education tend to have laissez-faire rather than socialist economic values but libertarian rather than authoritarian moral values church attendance, different pattern: regular attenders tend to have both laissez-faire and authoritarian values


38 Neither party identity, the postmaterialism indices nor the long libertarian scale show much difference in stability between the better and less educated respondents The socialism scale and class identity show greater differences, but by far the greatest difference occurs with the abstract left-right scale, where the correlation between the two rounds falls to 0.41 among the less educated.


40 the socialism scale is strongly associated with Labour and Conservative preferences
the libertarian scale by comparison has weaker (although still statistically significant) effects on support for the parties

41 Party identification and core political values are central elements in the political belief systems of ordinary citizens Are these predispositions related to one another? Does party identification influence core political values or are partisan identities grounded in such values?

42 Goren(2005) SEM to estimate dynamic models of attitude stability and constraint
Data from the National Election Study panel survey partisan identities are more stable than the principles of equal opportunity, limited government, traditional family values, and moral tolerance; party identification constrains equal opportunity, limited government, and moral tolerance; and these political values do not constrain party identification

43 Thank you for your attention! Questions? 

44 Much of past literature had been dedicated to explaining attitudes towards political leaders, preferences on issues of public policy, evaluations of government performance More important: uncovering underlying principles that lend consistency and meaningfulness to public opinion

45 Social constraint perspective
Structure in mass belief systems develops as a function of social learning Political elites organise political attitudes and beliefs into coherent structures for consumption by the public The more people are exposed to them and the better they comprehend them, the more likely their beliefs will be systematically organised

46 So how do core beliefs and values influence political opinions?
Policy preferences, performance judgements, candidate assessments are all political evaluations (Feldman, 1988) These are made on the basis of a number of criteria such as self interest, group identifications and political events So important to note that public attitudes are not completely structured by beliefs and values

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