are part of a core value
A value system is a set of consistent ethic values and measures used for the purpose of ethical or ideological integrity. A well defined value system is a moral code.-Personal and communal:...
dimension in the modernization
In the social sciences, modernization or modernisation refers to a model of an evolutionary transition from a 'pre-modern' or 'traditional' to a 'modern' society. The teleology of modernization is described in social evolutionism theories, existing as a template that has been generally followed by...
process. Self-expression is a cluster of values
A personal or cultural value is an absolute or relative ethical value, the assumption of which can be the basis for ethical action. A value system is a set of consistent values and measures. A principle value is a foundation upon which other values and measures of integrity are based...
that include social toleration, life satisfaction, public expression and an aspiration to liberty. Ronald Inglehart
Ronald F. Inglehart is a political scientist at the University of Michigan. He is director of the World Values Survey, a global network of social scientists who have carried out representative national surveys of the publics of over 80 societies on all six inhabited continents, containing 85...
, the University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...
professor who developed the theory of post-materialism
The concept of post-materialism is a tool in developing an understanding of modern culture. It can be considered in reference of three distinct concepts of materialism...
, has worked extensively with this concept. On the Inglehart–Welzel Cultural Map self-expression values
are contrasted with survival values
, illustrating the changes in values across countries and generations. The idea that the world is moving towards self-expression values was discussed at length in an article in the Economist
The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in offices in the City of Westminster, London, England. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843...
Emergence of self-expression values
The emergence of the post-industrial society
If a nation becomes "post-industrial" it passes through, or dodges, a phase of society predominated by a manufacturing-based economy and moves on to a structure of society based on the provision of information, innovation, finance, and services.-Characteristics:...
has brought about a wave of cultural change. In the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...
, Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...
, and a growing share of East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...
, a majority of the people are no longer employed in factories, but work in the service sector instead. There has been a shift from a mechanical environment to one where ever more people spend their days dealing with other people, symbols, and information
Information in its most restricted technical sense is a message or collection of messages that consists of an ordered sequence of symbols, or it is the meaning that can be interpreted from such a message or collection of messages. Information can be recorded or transmitted. It can be recorded as...
, which means that workers in the knowledge sector must exercise their own judgment and choice.
This shift has had major consequences:
- Unprecedentedly high levels of prosperity and welfare states that make food, clothing, shelter, housing, education and health service available to almost everyone. Even in the United States, where the welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...
is relatively limited, a significant portion of the GDP is redistributed through the state. This makes physical survival, a minimum living standard, and an average life expectancy of nearly 80 years to be taken for granted by people living in the respective societies, which encourages people to focus on goals beyond immediate survival.
- Modern service jobs increasingly require use of cognitive skills. Engineers, teachers, lawyers, accountants, counselors, programmers and analysts all belong to the creative class
The Creative Class is a socioeconomic class that economist and social scientist Richard Florida, a professor and head of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, identifies as a key driving force for economic development of post-industrial...
. These workers have high autonomy in their work, even if they sometimes continue to work in hierarchical organizations. The need for cognitive skills is dramatically larger than in societies in the early stages of industrialization. To meet these needs, the labor forces of post-industrial societies increasingly pursue higher education, emphasizing creativity, imagination and intellectual independence.
- Post-industrial societies are socially-liberating compared to their predecessors. The centrally-controlled, highly regimented workforces of the industrial world are gone, as are the strong conformity pressures that accompanied them. The traditional system—in which children's survival depended on their parents' providing for them, in return for which the children would take care of the parents in old age—has been undermined by the welfare state. As a result, close-knit family structures, once a necessity for survival, become increasingly a matter of choice, replacing "communities of necessity" with "elective affinities."
The destandardization of economic activities and social life diminishes social constraints in unprecedented ways. The shift in post-industrial societies is thus one of emancipation from authority.
Self-expression values and democracy
Industrialization can lead to fascism, communism, theocracy or democracy. But post-industrial society brings socio-cultural changes that make truly effective democracy increasingly probable.
Knowledge societies cannot function effectively without highly-educated workers, who become articulate and accustomed to thinking for themselves. Furthermore, rising levels of economic security bring growing emphasis on self-expression values that give high priority to free choice. Mass publics become increasingly likely to want democracy, and increasingly effective in getting it. Repressing mass demands for liberalization becomes increasingly costly and detrimental to economic effectiveness. These changes link economic development with democracy.
Empirical measurements of self-expression values
The most thorough assessment of self-expression values is carried out in the World Values Survey. Five "waves" have been conducted so far, each adding additional countries to the survey.
Subsequent data analysis
Analysis of data is a process of inspecting, cleaning, transforming, and modeling data with the goal of highlighting useful information, suggesting conclusions, and supporting decision making...
by Inglehart revealed that a large percentage in the variability in the data could be explained by using a set of measures that tapped just two dimensions: a traditional to secular-rational axis, and a survival to self-expression axis. The factor scores were originally based on 22 variables, but this was reduced to only 10 (5 for each dimension) for the purposes of data availability.
The self-expression axis has the following factor loadings.
| Survey question
|| Factor loading
| Respondent gives priority to self-expression and quality of life over economic and physical security
| Respondent describes self as very happy
| Homosexuality is sometimes justifiable
| Respondent has signed or would sign a petition
| Respondent does not think one has to be very careful about trusting people
Despite comprising only five variables, the correlates for this dimension across the WV survey are very strong. Below is a partial list. Positive answers indicate survival values, the opposite of self-expression values.
| Survival values emphasize the following (opposite of self-expression values)
|| Correlation with survival/
| Men make better political leaders than women.
| Respondent is dissatisfied with financial situation of his or her household.
| A woman has to have children in order to be fulfilled.
| Respondent rejects foreigners, homosexuals and people with AIDS as neighbors.
| Respondent favors more emphasis on the development of technology.
| Respondent has not recycled things to protect the environment.
| Respondent has not attended a meeting or signed a petition to protect the environment
| When seeking a job, a good income and a safe job are more important that a feeling of accomplishment and working with the people you like.
| Respondent is relatively favorable to state ownership of business and industry.
| A child needs a home with both a mother and a father to grow up happily.
| Respondent does not describe own health as very good.
| One must always love and respect one's parents regardless of their behavior.
| When jobs are scarce, men have more right to a job than women.
| Respondent does not have much free choice or control over his or her life.
| Imagination is not one of the most important things to teach a child.