8.27.2012

Values & Modernization Theory: World Values Survey (WVS)


Modernization theories provide a set of lenses through which social changes might be analyzed, including: occupational differentiation, association, shifts in community, population growth and women’s work, etc. To touch briefly on the issue of family and occupational relationships, the earliest modernization theorists didn't really anticipate that societies would choose to maintain systems of ethics, such as Confucianism, to maintain family status ties. This is why some recent work in this area aims to understand how these values systems undergo change. 


An anonymous reader shared one such example here, thanks! Here is another:

The World Values Survey (WVS) Chairman Ronald Inglehart and Vice President Christian Welzel frame modernization theory in terms of Durkheim’s theory of solidary and Tönnies’ theory of association; but also argue that although societies are on different paths, modernization is a somewhat predictable process that gives rise to increased autonomy, gender shifts and democratization (Inglehart & Welzel, 24).


Thus, with their modernization theory and WVS work Inglehart and Welzel not only reintegrate foundational theories, but add a provocative new tool for examining cultural changes. They might see the democratization of Korean society as predictable, given changes in economic development (18). Could this also mean that Korea is on a trajectory toward greater personal autonomy (perhaps evidenced by movement away from parental authority, and decline in primacy of first sons’ ancestral worship rituals) and greater gender equality (perhaps evidenced by women’s workforce participation, declining birth rates)? Yet, in contrast with theoretical predictions, WVS Cultural Maps from 1999-2004 and 2005-2008 (presented below) show that Korean society shifted toward less self-expression and more traditional values in recent years. It will be interesting to see how the research evolves in the next data set in a few years. 
What do you think might be behind the shift? 

The World Value Survey Cultural Map 1999-2004 (Korea’s X-Y values are -0.5 by 1.0):

The World Value Survey Cultural Map 2005-2008 (Korea’s X-Y values are -1.25 by 0.6):
What other studies have you read that might offer insight into what influences dating and marriage patterns? 

The Korean Gender Cafe is open to your reading suggestions and also hope to provide reviews of material that ought to be part of the conversation about gender in Korean society. We will keep working to share content for discussion and study. 


Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel, "Changing Mass Priorities: The Link Between Modernization and Democracy." Perspectives on Politics June 2010 (vol 8, No. 2) page 554.
Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel, Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005: page 63.