This book gives insight into how people's basic values and altitudes differ across almost 100 countries containing most of the world's population—and how these orientations have been changing during the last three decades, from 1981 to 2007. Using data from the World Values Survey and European Values Study Surveys, it examines human values and goals concerning politics, economics, religion, sexual behavior, gender roles, family values, communal identities, civic engagement, and ethical concerns, and such issues as environmental protection, scientific progress and technological development, and human happiness. This sourcebook enables the reader to compare the responses to hundreds of questions across societies throughout the world covering the full spectrum of economic, political and cultural variation, including a variety of religious and cultural traditions, from Christian to Islamic to Confucian to Hindu. The data show significant differences between societies whose culture emphasizes social conformity and group-obligations, to societies where the main emphasis is on human emancipation and self-expression. "Economic development is linked with social change—but the process is not linear. Though a specific modernization syndrome becomes increasingly probable when societies move from an agrarian mode to an industrial mode, no trend goes on the same direction forever. It eventually reaches a point of diminishing returns. Modernization is no exception. In the past few decades, advanced industrial societies have reached an inflection point where they begin moving on a new trajectory described as `postmodernization'. This stage brings a pervasive shift in value orientations linked with increasing emphasis on human choice in all aspects of people's lives—including mate selection, gender roles, child rearing goals, working habas, religious orientations, consumer patterns, civic action and voting behavior".

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