Sociology Values
by
Eva Jaspers
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 October 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0182

Introduction

Values have been an important topic of sociological research for over a century. The classical sociologists considered values to be key elements of human groups and societies. For instance, sociology’s founding fathers Émile Durkheim and Max Weber considered how differences in values, and the extent to which our actions are influenced by these values via norm compliance, explain differences between groups. Sociologists tend not to write about what ought to be valued, but rather they describe (differences in) values, search for values that are shared among individuals/societies, and explain their origin and consequences. Theoretical and empirical questions on the distribution of values in societies are now a firm part of sociological research worldwide, although economics, political science, psychology, and anthropology study values as well. Any overview of the literature on values thus necessarily draws on these fields. Values remain, however, to some extent a contested concept in sociology, partly due to measurement difficulties and partly to lacking evidence of what values may do. Values give direction to the way that individuals, organizations, and societies act; what they strive for; and what they deem important. Values are culturally approved, internalized wishes that motivate our actions. Values are relatively abstract notions that inspire our beliefs and attitudes and determine what we strive for. Shalom Schwartz theorizes that value dimensions are universal because they refer to three questions that all groups must relate to: (1) How do the individual and the group relate? (2) How should social relations be organized in a way that maintains the social structure of society? (3) How should we relate to other societies or the natural world? We know that both the parental home and the larger society have influence on value formation. The empirical results on how values matter in the daily decisions, emotions, and behaviors of individuals, organizations, and societies are scarce. We do not know the importance of values for outcomes from sociological studies, but there is more empirical evidence from organizational or psychological literature. For instance, people for whom individuality, independence, and freedom are important values become unsatisfied in work environments that ask for obedience and compliance. At the same time, people hold many values that may conflict with one another, depending on the context that people are in. There exists no straightforward relation between finding a particular value important and how one behaves because of this continuous conflict of values. Generally speaking, people have values that differ in importance to them and that may or may not be activated in a particular context. Some related concepts are sometimes mistaken for values, most notably attitudes, beliefs, and norms. Attitudes are affective evaluations of all kinds of specific objects, such as soccer teams, coffees, emancipation, or political candidates. Beliefs are statements that individuals hold to be true, whether they are or not. “Penguins live at the South Pole” and “Penguins live at the North Pole” are two examples of beliefs that people may hold. Beliefs can also take the form of prejudice. Norms are rules or guidelines that are shared within groups (large or small) and that prescribe acceptable behaviors.

General Overviews: Universal Value Systems

From the first scholars up to the early 21st century, there have been numerous attempts to categorize values into universal value systems, and some main works on universal values are given in this section. Classic texts include Rokeach 1973 and Parsons 1935. There seems to be consensus on at least part of the definition of value systems, and most scholars agree that a universal set of values exists. Some of the most influential work (e.g., Hofstede 2001, Schwartz 1992) contends that two sets of value dimensions exist, one at the level of the individual and one at the level of societies. Smith and Dugan 1996 and Fischer and Poortinga 2012 test this assumption. Other studies, such as Inglehart 1977, aggregate individual values to the macro level without considering a different structure at the macro level. More-recent studies aim to bring back the importance of values to the sociological research tradition in innovative ways. Hitlin and Piliavin 2004 discusses the role of values in behavior; Hitlin and Vaisey 2013 considers the study of morality as a new avenue for sociological research.

  • Fischer, Ronald, and Ype H. Poortinga. 2012. Are cultural values the same as the values of individuals? An examination of similarities in personal, social and cultural value structures. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management 12.2: 157–170.

    DOI: 10.1177/1470595812439867Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Both Shalom Schwartz and Geert Hofstede have argued that individual value systems differ from national value systems, and this article tests this claim through using the Schwartz Value Survey and two others. Shows that value dimensions are identical at both levels and need not be treated or researched separately.

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    • Hitlin, Steven, and Jane Allyn Piliavin. 2004. Values: Reviving a dormant concept. Annual Review of Sociology 30:359–393.

      DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.30.012703.110640Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Excellent overview of scholarly work on values, albeit with a rather strong emphasis on Schwartz’s Basic Human Values. Noteworthy is the section on what values do. Although the authors bring together what we know of the consequences of values in 2004, the result is meager because few studies have studied (and found) effects of values on behaviors.

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      • Hitlin, Steven, and Stephen Vaisey. 2013. The new sociology of morality. Annual Review of Sociology 39:51–68.

        DOI: 10.1146/annurev-soc-071312-145628Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Theoretical paper that combines different strands of literature from within and outside sociology to arrive at a synthesis that covers recent developments in (neuro)psychology. Shifts from a focus on values to a focus on morality and names three contributions that sociologist can and ought to make in the field: (1) to study variation in what is considered moral, (2) to study social processes that can explain this variation, (3) to study how morality affects behavior in natural contexts.

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        • Hofstede, Geert. 2001. Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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          On the basis of an employee survey in multinational IBM, Hofstede in this influential book distinguishes four values that are continuums on which countries vary: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism (collectivism), and masculinity (femininity). In the updated second edition, a fifth factor is added on the basis of research in China: long-term orientation (short term). Cited mostly in management and organization science.

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          • Inglehart, Ronald. 1977. The silent revolution: Changing values and political styles among Western publics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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            Influential book, notably in political sociology. The first of many more books by this author around the same major theme: that there exists an intergenerational shift in values. Due to circumstances of affluence, younger generations have less materialist values (security, law, and order) and more post-materialist values (freedom of speech). His findings remain important but continue to be debated on persistency.

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            • Parsons, Talcott. 1935. The place of ultimate values in sociological theory. International Journal of Ethics 45.3: 282–316.

              DOI: 10.1086/intejethi.45.3.2378271Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Early functionalist work on values that studied values as compliance to societal norms. It assumed a singular moral system for societies, supported by its institutions. Became unpopular in the second half of the 20th century, as sociologists moved to study power and stratification issues. In its day, however, Parsons was an eminent theorist and he influenced many sociologists.

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              • Rokeach, Milton. 1973. The nature of human values. New York: Free Press.

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                One of the seminal works on values that inspired much of the later work. Rokeach distinguishes between terminal and instrumental values, which reflect end states or goals and modes or means, respectively. In this important book, values are discussed in relation to attitudes and behavior, as well as politics.

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                • Schwartz, Shalom H. 1992. Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. In Advances in experimental social psychology. Vol. 25. Edited by Mark P. Zanna, 1–65. New York: Academic Press.

                  DOI: 10.1016/S0065-2601(08)60281-6Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                  Categorization into nine or ten basic values in the structure of a circle. Values next to each other are closer on a theoretical continuum, whereas values across from each other are contradictory. Further reduced to two value dimensions: self-enhancement versus self-transcendence and conservatism versus openness to change. Tested in twenty nations, empirical evidence is presented. Schwartz´s measurement was influenced by the Rokeach questionnaire. Currently, Schwartz is the most influential scholar in the sociological study of values. Highly cited.

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                  • Smith, Peter B., and Shaun Dugan. 1996. National culture and the values of organizational employees: A dimensional analysis across 43 nations. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 27.2: 231–264.

                    DOI: 10.1177/0022022196272006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Attempts to reconstruct Hofstede’s key constructs with a new global sample, incorporating the work of Schwartz and other values scholars. Finds strong evidence for an individualism/collectivism-like construct but fails to find the other Hofstede dimensions. Their differing findings are (partly) explained by differences in surveyed countries, since this study includes (former) communist nations with particular value systems.

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                    Journals

                    There is no single sociological-scientific journal that devotes itself to studies of values. Rather, studies on values tend to appear in general journals or in subfield journals when specific values but not value systems are studied. This is a list, which is not exhaustive, of where major studies have appeared. Interdisciplinary journals such as Public Opinion Quarterly and the International Journal of Public Opinion Research are often better suited to find or publish studies on values, since the scholars that occupy themselves with the topic come from so many fields as well. The two major American journals, American Journal of Sociology and American Sociological Review, as well as the top European one, European Sociological Review, occasionally publish work on values, with American Sociological Review appearing to be most accessible for scholars on the topic. Much of the work was in fact published in psychological journals, of which the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology is the most important. Other interdisciplinary journals include the Journal of Social Issues, Social Psychology Quarterly, and Cross-Cultural Research. Please note that for searches as well as outlets for literature on values on specific themes, specialist journals are often most suited. For instance, for work on family values, consider Journal of Marriage and Family, Journal of Family Issues, or Sex Roles.

                    Surveys and Databases

                    There are numerous data sets aimed at measuring values across the world. It is impossible to give an overview of all the (sociological) data sets that are available for secondary data analyses in data depositories. However, some long-running data sets have been well established and have often been utilized by values scholars. This section briefly describes the most important cross-national and longitudinal data available to sociologists. The World Values Survey and European Values Study, which sometimes do and sometimes do not coincide, are probably the most important. The European Social Survey and the General Social Survey (GSS) in the United States are among the most encompassing and highest-quality data sets. The Pew Research Center data cover countries that are rarely found in other surveys; however, less is known on data quality. The Eurobarometer Surveys and International Social Survey Programme are important because they often include many questions on values. None of these surveys go back further than the 1980s, with the notable exception of the GSS and Eurobarometer. For those interested in longer-term developments in what people value, national data sets that cover longer periods are sometimes available in Western countries. The same can be said for data sets aimed at studying change in individuals over time, or panel data. Many (Western) countries now support national panel data collections that occasionally include questions on values.

                    Measurement and Methodology

                    An important aspect of the study of values is their measurement. There is an ongoing debate about whether and how values should be measured by using quantitative methodologies such as survey instruments. One important discussion focuses on the cross-cultural equivalence of the value scales employed in international research. Do different groups in different societies at different times interpret the questionnaire items identically? And can their scores thus be compared? An example can be found in Davidov 2010, whose author’s work is commented on in Knoppen and Saris 2009. Both Eldad Davidov and Willem Saris are important scholars in the field of cross-cultural measurement equivalence. A second discussion focuses on how the structure of value systems can best be captured methodologically and empirically. An example of such a discussion can be found in Gouveia, et al. 2014a, with subsequent comments in Schwartz 2014 and Gouveia, et al. 2014b.

                    • Davidov, Eldad. 2010. Testing for comparability of human values across countries and time with the third round of the European Social Survey. International Journal of Comparative Sociology 51.3: 171–191.

                      DOI: 10.1177/0020715210363534Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      Studies measurement invariance for the Schwartz values scale and concludes that comparisons across countries are often problematic. Comparisons within countries over time appear to come with fewer measurement issues.

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                      • Gouveia, Valdiney V., Taciano L. Milfont, and Valeschka M. Guerra. 2014a. Functional theory of human values: Testing its content and structure hypotheses. Personality and Individual Differences 60 (April): 41–47.

                        DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2013.12.012Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Gouveia has been publishing for some time on a proposal for a different underlying structure of human values. This paper is a well-argued example, criticizing the numerous subdivisions of universal values that have been proposed by Schwartz and others.

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                        • Gouveia, Valdiney V., Taciano L. Milfont, and Valeschka M. Guerra. 2014b. The functional theory of human values: From intentional overlook to first acknowledgement—a reply to Schwartz (2014). Personality and Individual Differences 68 (October): 250–253.

                          DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.03.025Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          A reply to Schwartz 2014 by the original authors. Includes a discussion on how the authors feel they have been mistreated by the scientific community because of their theoretical disagreement with one of the most influential scholars in the field.

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                          • Knoppen, Desirée, and Willem Saris. 2009. Do we have to combine values in the Schwartz’ human values scale? A comment on the Davidov studies. Survey Research Methods 3.2: 91–103.

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                            Argues that the choice of items in the European Social Survey (cited under Surveys and Databases) is responsible for the lack of measurement invariance. Aims to demonstrate that problematic measurement is not a characteristic of value per se.

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                            • Schwartz, Shalom H. 2014. Functional theories of human values: Comment on Gouveia, Milfont, and Guerra (2014). Personality and Individual Differences 68 (October): 247–249.

                              DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.03.024Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                              Disagrees with Gouveia, et al. 2014a by claiming that many subdivisions are possible, depending on the preferred level of abstraction.

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                              Generations, Families, and Value Transmission

                              The transmission of values between generations is considered a vital aspect of the functioning of societies. This transmission can be interpreted as a buffer against too-rapid social change, and thus as essential for societal stability. The classic text on generations is Mannheim 1952, and an excellent introduction on the topic of generational change is provided in Alwin and McCammon 2004. The term “generations” may refer both to generations within families and birth cohorts. Two perspectives on generational (in)stability exist. One considers the family, and especially the parents, as the most-important socializing agents that instill values in children. In this perspective, the term “generations” refers to parents and their offspring; “generational stability,” to the transmission from parents to children. Glass, et al. 1986 is one of the most cited articles that study this transmission in three generations. Kretschmer and Pike 2010 studies the same topic from a different viewpoint: whether adult siblings share the same values. Kasser, et al. 2002 shows how parenting styles might also influence values. The other perspective on generations, that of societal generations, argues that it is the specific societal circumstances during the formative years (roughly adolescence) that influence lifelong values. In this line of reasoning, the term “generations” refers to societal generations, which are groups that share the same years of birth and a socialization under similar macrolevel circumstances—for instance, the absence of war or economic depression. Some important generations have been identified by scholars; for example, the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers. In popular debate, more and more generations pop up (Generation Y, Generation Me, etc.). However, scientific evidence for the existence of these new societal generations, in the sense that they share a common value system, is largely absent. Schuman and Scott 1989, a very nice read, shows that generations differ in what they deem important events for society. Jaspers, et al. 2007 studies cohort succession by looking at structural differences between generations in their level of religiosity.

                              • Alwin, Duane F., and Ryan J. McCammon. 2004. Generations, cohorts, and social change. In Handbook of the life course. Edited by Jeylan T. Mortimer and Michael J. Shanahan, 23–50. Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research. New York: Springer.

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                                Very nice overview that discusses at length, both theoretically and empirically, how generational replacement and the succession of cohorts is related to social change. The authors discuss the impressionable-years hypothesis and present different models of human stability in values over the life span.

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                                • Glass, Jennifer, Vern L. Bengtson, and Charlotte Chorn Dunham. 1986. Attitude similarity in three-generation families: Socialization, status inheritance, or reciprocal influence? American Sociological Review 51.5: 685–698.

                                  DOI: 10.2307/2095493Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  Innovative and important paper that studies three alternative routes to attitude similarity in families. The authors found especially strong support for reciprocal influence between parents and children. A topic that has remained understudied when compared to socialization and status inheritance mechanisms.

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                                  • Jaspers, Eva, Marcel Lubbers, and Nan Dirk de Graaf. 2007. “Horrors of Holland”: Explaining attitude change towards euthanasia and homosexuals in the Netherlands, 1970–1998. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 19.4: 451–473.

                                    DOI: 10.1093/ijpor/edm029Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    This paper addresses birth cohort succession (a proxy for generational replacement) as a source of the observed rapid changes in attitudes on euthanasia and homosexuality. Instead of just year of birth, aims to model societal circumstances during adolescence. Concludes that cohort succession exerts the largest influence on the change in public opinion, as younger cohorts become less and less religious.

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                                    • Kasser, Tim, Richard Koestner, and Natasha Lekes. 2002. Early family experiences and adult values: A 26-year, prospective longitudinal study. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 28.6: 826–835.

                                      DOI: 10.1177/0146167202289011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      The study shows how parenting styles affect basic adult values, in a unique longitudinal design. The authors attribute their findings to the ways in which parenting styles hinder or support the fulfillment of children’s basic psychological needs. The socioeconomic status of parents is correlated with their parenting style, but an independent effect of parenting (e.g., restrictive or cold) remained.

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                                      • Kretschmer, Tina, and Alison Pike. 2010. Associations between adolescent siblings’ relationship quality and similarity and differences in values. Journal of Family Psychology 24.4: 411–418.

                                        DOI: 10.1037/a0020060Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        There is little to moderate similarity between adolescent siblings both in intrinsic and extrinsic values, as found in this paper. As a consequence of this finding, parent-child value transmission is problematized. How can it be that children with the same parents have such differing values?

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                                        • Mannheim, Karl. 1952. The problem of generations. In Essays on the sociology of knowledge. Edited by Paul Kecskemeti, 276–322. International Library of Sociology and Social Reconstruction. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

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                                          Classic text in which generations and generational change are elaborated. Mannheim argues that generations are not a concrete group, but rather a “social location” in which individuals share the same historical period in the social process of societies. This imprints lasting values on the generation. However, the shared social location of individuals in history does not necessarily mean that they share values, since they may interpret their experiences differently. Republished as recently as 2010 (Memphis, TN: General Books).

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                                          • Schuman, Howard, and Jacqueline Scott. 1989. Generations and collective memories. American Sociological Review 54.3: 359–381.

                                            DOI: 10.2307/2095611Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                            Empirically tests the concept of societal generations by studying what Americans deem important historical events. Finds evidence for a generational structure of these so-called collective memories, in which historical events that took place during late adolescence and early adulthood are deemed most important. Discusses to what extent collective memories might affect future behavior. Reasons for finding historical events important, however, seem to depend largely on personal experiences and memories rather than collective ones.

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                                            Value Formation and Value Change

                                            There is considerable consensus that values are relatively stable across the life course, after formation during adolescence. However, the different approaches to where values come from leave some or more room for the possibility of change. Konty and Dunham 1997 discusses the extent to which values are malleable in later life, while Bardi and Goodwin 2011 examines the mechanisms via which value change can occur. There has been a strand of research arguing that values stem from the structural positions that individuals occupy in society. Most notably, occupational characteristics with respect to levels of autonomy and obedience that are required at the job would influence values that people hold. Changes in structural positions would thus lead to changes in values. A classic example in the field is Kohn and Schooler 1982, which is put to the test by Halaby 2003. Most scholars, however, seem to prefer the view that values are acquired in adolescence as a consequence of how basic human needs (security, shelter, food, affection) are met, both by the parental home and society at large. Roccas, et al. 2002 links values to Big Five personality traits, but remain at the surface. Xiao 2000 discusses how parental background and parenting styles instill values in their offspring. More recently, Longest, et al. 2013 attempts to integrate these approaches into one empirical test.

                                            • Bardi, Anat, and Robin Goodwin. 2011. The dual route to value change: Individual processes and cultural moderators. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42.2: 271–287.

                                              DOI: 10.1177/0022022110396916Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              Proposes a theoretical model of two modes of value change, via an automatic or an effortful route. The first operates unconsciously via environmental influences; the second, via active cognitive effort. Value change operates in a value system, which means that (Schwartz) values do not change individually but collectively and in a systematic way.

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                                              • Halaby, Charles N. 2003. Where job values come from: Family and schooling background, cognitive ability, and gender. American Sociological Review 68.2: 251–278.

                                                DOI: 10.2307/1519768Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                Comprehensive study that aims to explain adult job values by looking not at present job characteristics, but at backgrounds. Nice counterpart to the work of Melvin Kohn. Reports extensively on empirical relations between characteristics. Finds cognitive ability and education level to most strongly affect entrepreneurial versus bureaucratic job values.

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                                                • Kohn, Melvin L., and Carmi Schooler. 1982. Job conditions and personality: A longitudinal assessment of their reciprocal effects. American Journal of Sociology 87.6: 1257–1286.

                                                  DOI: 10.1086/227593Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                  Influential article that set the stage for research into the relationship between levels of self-direction at work (substantive complexity, closeness of supervision, and degree of routinization) and consequently valuing tradition or conformity.

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                                                  • Konty, Mark A., and Charlotte Chorn Dunham. 1997. Differences in value and attitude change over the life course. Sociological Spectrum 17.2: 177–197.

                                                    DOI: 10.1080/02732173.1997.9982159Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    Presents a systematic review of values versus attitudes and concludes that attitudes are more likely to change over the life course and are affected differently by period and cohort effects.

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                                                    • Longest, Kyle C., Steven Hitlin, and Stephen Vaisey. 2013. Position and disposition: The contextual development of human values. Social Forces 91.4: 1499–1528.

                                                      DOI: 10.1093/sf/sot045Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      Attempts to provide a full model of the relations between individual and societal circumstances and the Schwartz value system, but in the end raises almost more questions than it answers. Sound research. Good place to look for open debates.

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                                                      • Roccas, Sonia, Lilach Sagiv, Shalom H. Schwartz, and Ariel Knafo. 2002. The Big Five personality factors and personal values. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 28.6: 789–801.

                                                        DOI: 10.1177/0146167202289008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        Clear and concise discussion of the difference between values and traits and how these relate. Most expected correlations were found, and correlations with religiosity are discussed. Theoretical implications are a little underdeveloped.

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                                                        • Xiao, Hong. 2000. Class, gender, and parental values in the 1990s. Gender & Society 14.6: 785–803.

                                                          DOI: 10.1177/089124300014006005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          Shows that social class (especially education) is correlated with what parents value in their children, in concordance with much-earlier work. Interactions with gender are added. Middle-class women most strongly endorse autonomy in children, and racial group and religiosity have additional influence on parental values.

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                                                          Values and Behavior

                                                          For several reasons, the link between values and behavior has not been extensively studied by sociologists. This has to do with methodological issues, where in empirical studies values might be inferred from studying behaviors, or a belief that values are especially hard to measure, so that the values-behavior link cannot be determined. Much of the literature on the values-behavior link stems from environmental studies, political science, organizational studies, or marketing. Some important studies in these related fields are presented in this section. Rohan 2000 is a nice theoretical introduction to how values inform behavior, from a rather psychological perspective. Homer and Kahle 1988 consists of an empirical test but lacks theoretical insights. Karp 1996 and Smith, et al. 2002 test the values-behavior link on environmental issues and managerial behaviors, respectively. A very different example stems from political science; Segal and Cover 1989 looks at values-informed behavior of judges. Hechter, et al. 1999 is a good example of the values-behavior link, but the paper derives from a rather obscure field of sociology. Miles 2015 is a very nice example of a sociologist examining the values-behavior link, showing both theoretically and empirically in a cross-national comparison that diverging cultural values do predict behavior.

                                                          • Hechter, Michael, James Ranger-Moore, Guillermina Jasso, and Christine Horne. 1999. Do values matter? An analysis of advance directives for medical treatment. European Sociological Review 15.4: 405–430.

                                                            DOI: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.esr.a018273Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            Impressive and thoughtful study that addresses many of the concerns that some sociologists have around the study of values, although the dependent variable does not stem from mainstream sociology, and the number of respondents that the study is based on is very low. The operationalization of values also differs from most other studies.

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                                                            • Homer, Pamela H., and Lynn R. Kahle. 1988. A structural equation test of the value-attitude-behavior hierarchy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 54.4: 638–646.

                                                              DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.54.4.638Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              Early empirical test on the relationships among values, attitudes, and behavior. Praiseworthy article. Heavy on methodology and a little short on theory, this paper establishes a clear link.

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                                                              • Karp, David Gutierrez. 1996. Values and their effect on pro-environmental behavior. Environment and Behavior 28.1: 111–133.

                                                                DOI: 10.1177/0013916596281006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                Perhaps the values-behavior link has been studied much more in environmental studies because their problems often faces free-rider problems, so that the “rational” action and the valued action when faced with a dilemma can be contradictory. This paper is a nice example of the type of studies in the field. Schwartz values are used, and a clear relationship between self-transcendence and environmentalist behaviors was found.

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                                                                • Miles, Andrew. 2015. The (re)genesis of values: Examining the importance of values for action. American Sociological Review 80.4: 680–704.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/0003122415591800Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  Innovative paper that addresses the values-behavior link with advanced methodology and both survey and experimental data. It incorporates the dual-process models from neuroscience to come to an interesting and promising new direction for research on how values may affect behavior.

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                                                                  • Rohan, Meg J. 2000. A rose by any name? The values construct. Personality and Social Psychology Review 4.3: 255–277.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1207/S15327957PSPR0403_4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    Theoretical paper that aims at disentangling confusions regarding what values are and what they are not. Proposes a model on how values might indirectly guide behavior via worldviews and ideologies. Remains to be tested.

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                                                                    • Segal, Jeffrey A., and Albert D. Cover. 1989. Ideological values and the votes of the U.S. Supreme Court justices. American Political Science Review 83.2: 557–565.

                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/1962405Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      Values of individual judges were derived not from survey measurements but from content analysis of newspaper editorials. For sociologists, an innovative approach that is not often employed. Finds clear evidence of values-judgments link.

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                                                                      • Smith, Peter B., Mark F. Peterson, and Shalom H. Schwartz. 2002. Cultural values, sources of guidance, and their relevance to managerial behavior: A 47-nation study. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 33.2: 188–208.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/0022022102033002005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Important paper because it studies values-behavior links across countries, using Schwartz and Hofstede dimensions at the cultural level. Their dependent variable is the sources of guidance that managers use when at work; for instance, self-guidance, widely held beliefs, or coworkers’ advice. Finds only limited influences from country-level values on the behaviors of managers from the forty-seven countries included in the study (mostly when it comes to yes or no, relying on advice from superiors), and tentatively concludes that some cross-cultural interventions in internationally operating companies may be too superficial.

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                                                                        Value Types

                                                                        Political Values

                                                                        In political science and political sociology, yet another value system is dominant. Again, we find two continuums but by different names. Notably, Inglehart and Welzel 2005 introduces materialism and post-materialism dimensions. But other names for overlapping yet slightly different constructs are abundant: for instance, economic and cultural conservatism versus liberalism, and left-right scales and libertarian-authoritarian values; for a good example, see Evans, et al. 1996. In the first construct, generally the (re)distribution of wealth is central; in the second, the level of individual freedom is key. In this line of research, the effects of values on (voting) behavior are regularly studied. Achterberg and Houtman 2009 doubts whether there is a two-dimensional value system among the Dutch. In the United States, there is a particularly strong tradition of research in parental political socialization, but much less so in other countries. An influential early example of work on parental political socialization is Hyman 1959, while Jennings and Niemi 1968 is further developed and methodologically more advanced. An exciting new avenue can be found in Smith, et al. 2012, which discusses whether family differences in political values can be attributed to genetic predispositions for conservatism. A related argument can be found in Lipset 1959, a seminal and very influential work, in which the author argues that class structures create values in individuals. Alwin, et al. 1991 is a unique study because of the time span over which it studies value consistency within individuals; it focuses on the role of educational institutions in shaping values, has a creative design, and is a joy to read. Stubager 2008 is a more recent example of research on the influence of educational institutions on values.

                                                                        • Achterberg, Peter, and Dick Houtman. 2009. Ideologically illogical? Why do the lower-educated Dutch display so little value coherence? Social Forces 87.3: 1649–1670.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1353/sof.0.0164Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Uses a two-dimensional structure of political values and studies whether this is a universal structure among the Dutch population. Rare example of studying value systems within a national population. Makes some questionable assumptions on coherence between the two dimensions.

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                                                                          • Alwin, Duane F., Ronald L. Cohen, and Theodore M. Newcomb. 1991. Political attitudes over the life span: The Bennington women after fifty years. Life Course Studies. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

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                                                                            Unique book that covers fifty years in the life of a group of women attending Bennington College in the 1930s. The authors examine to what extent the political orientations of these women are stable across the life course, employing various innovative and creative methods. Pleasure to read.

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                                                                            • Evans, Geoffrey, Anthony Heath, and Mansur Lalljee. 1996. Measuring left-right and libertarian-authoritarian values in the British electorate. British Journal of Sociology 47.1: 93–112.

                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/591118Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              Attempts to find a two-factor structure of political values in the general British public, and succeeds in doing so. Shows that the two-factor structure is related to support from the main political parties both during and between elections.

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                                                                              • Hyman, Herbert H. 1959. Political socialization: A study in the psychology of political behavior. New York: Free Press.

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                                                                                The classic text in political-value formation, containing early empirical studies. Considers, from various socializing agents, the parental home to be the most important, but points out that with age and geographical distance, parents lose much of their influence.

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                                                                                • Inglehart, Ronald, and Christian Welzel. 2005. Modernization, cultural change, and democracy: The human development sequence. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511790881Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Grand work that covers an incredible array of topics and tries to bring it all together. However, quite a few methodological flaws can and have been found throughout the book.

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                                                                                  • Jennings, M. Kent, and Richard G. Niemi. 1968. The transmission of political values from parent to child. American Political Science Review 62.1: 169–184.

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                                                                                    Early systematic study into political-value transmission. Studies both partisanship and specific attitudes and finds limited similarity. Includes characteristics of the family that might facilitate value transmission, and finds some evidence that having political discussions in the household increases similarity between parents and their late-adolescent offspring.

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                                                                                    • Lipset, Seymour Martin. 1959. Democracy and working-class authoritarianism. American Sociological Review 24.4: 482–501.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/2089536Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      Classic work on the authoritarian dimension. Influenced by its era at the end of World War II. Shows for German males a relationship between socioeconomic status and a preference for quick and easy solutions, what Lipset believes to be fundamental to the authoritarian perspective. Builds on work of social psychologists studying the authoritarian personality, and has received both support and criticism.

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                                                                                      • Smith, Kevin, John R. Alford, Peter K. Hatemi, Lindon J. Eaves, Carolyn Funk, and John R. Hibbing. 2012. Biology, ideology, and epistemology: How do we know political attitudes are inherited and why should we care? American Journal of Political Science 56.1: 17–33.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2011.00560.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Exciting new line of research on the biological dimension in the formation and transformation of values, although its use for sociologists remains to be seen. Studies similarities in political conservatism between monozygotic and dizygotic twins and addresses the most-common problems with previous studies. Concludes that political scientists should pay more attention to genetic factors, but never solely.

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                                                                                        • Stubager, Rune. 2008. Education effects on authoritarian-libertarian values: A question of socialization. British Journal of Sociology 59.2: 327–350.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-4446.2008.00196.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          Tries to explain what it is exactly in education that makes people have more-libertarian values. Both duration and field of education have strong effects on these values, and various mediating variables are unable to diminish the effect substantively. Concludes that it is thus socialization (by the educational system) that drives the education effect.

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                                                                                          Religious Values

                                                                                          Religious values are taught by religious scriptures and institutions. Religions may differ in the values they endorse, and probably even more in the importance they attach to different values. Founding scholars of sociology have studied how religious differences among Christian denominations have influenced the lives of those within these institutions; see the classic Weber 1958 and Durkheim 2008. Differences in values among denominations continue to be a topic of research, for instance in Norris and Inglehart 2004. The term “religious values” is sometimes used interchangeably with “religious beliefs” in sociological research, and religiosity in these studies is a dependent value. See, for instance, the excellent Kelley and De Graaf 1997, which studies societal influences on religious upbringings, or Inglehart and Baker 2000. In other cases, religiosity is used to explain differences in values (systems) either cross-nationally or individually. Schwartz and Huismans 1995 examines whether individuals with different denominations have markedly different values. A small but influential line of research investigates whether religious denominations differ in what they deem important in children—for instance, obedience or curiosity. See Alwin 1986 for an early and good example, and Starks and Robinson 2007 for an early-21st-century follow-up.

                                                                                          • Alwin, Duane F. 1986. Religion and parental child-rearing orientations: Evidence of a Catholic-Protestant convergence. American Journal of Sociology 92.2: 412–440.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1086/228506Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            Classic study on denominations and corresponding traits that parents value in their children. Links to changes within the Catholic Church and organization, as well as various other domains such as contraceptive use. Shows that the value changes among Catholics drive the observed convergence, and that Protestants remain similar in values.

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                                                                                            • Durkheim, Émile. 2008. The elementary forms of religious life. Translated by Carol Cosman. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                              Originally published in 1912 in French (Paris: Alcan). Although flawed in many ways by modern scientific standards, it remains a laudable attempt to study the origin of religion and its consequences for our moral values. Finds the origin of religion in the social experience of society. Takes a functionalist perspective on values as naturally following from institutional structures. Provides extensive and, as was later shown, mistaken accounts of aboriginal religion.

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                                                                                              • Inglehart, Ronald, and Wayne E. Baker. 2000. Modernization, cultural change, and the persistence of traditional values. In Special issue: Looking forward, looking back: Continuity and change at the turn of the millenium. American Sociological Review 65.1: 19–51.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/2657288Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                In a somewhat confusing paper, due to a huge amount of information, the authors propose a modification of the modernization thesis, as put forward by the first author. They show convincing evidence that religious heritage of countries continues to shape the values of their populations, in line with Kelley and De Graaf 1997.

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                                                                                                • Kelley, Jonathan, and Nan Dirk De Graaf. 1997. National context, parental socialization, and religious beliefs: Results from 15 nations. American Sociological Review 62.4: 639–659.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/2657431Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Nice but rather complex paper that employs a method mostly used in the stratification literature to test whether the religious national context influences religious-value transmission from parents to children. Shows some interesting results.

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                                                                                                  • Norris, Pippa, and Ronald Inglehart. 2004. Religion, the Protestant ethic, and moral values. In Sacred and secular: Religion and politics worldwide. By Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart, 159–179. Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion, and Politics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                    Tests Max Weber’s thesis on the relationship between denomination (Protestantism) and work values, not on the individual but on the aggregate level, as he intended. Finds no empirical evidence for this claim, since all other denominations score higher on work values. Extends the analysis to other values, wherein denominational differences are discussed.

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                                                                                                    • Schwartz, Shalom H., and Sipke Huismans. 1995. Value priorities and religiosity in four Western religions. Social Psychology Quarterly 58.2: 88–107.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/2787148Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Jews, Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox are shown in three separate studies to adhere stronger to values of tradition, conformity, and security than to values of hedonism, stimulation, and self-direction, as was expected. Protestants did not score higher on achievement values, thus contradicting Weber’s thesis on the Protestant work ethic.

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                                                                                                      • Starks, Brian, and Robert V. Robinson. 2007. Moral cosmology, religion, and adult values for children. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 46.1: 17–35.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5906.2007.00338.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        Shows that next to Christian denomination, orthodoxy influences the traits that American parents value in their children. Employs the same items as in Alwin 1986. The authors find no additional effects of church attendance over orthodoxy, but some differences among denominations remain.

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                                                                                                        • Weber, Max. 1958. The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. Translated by Talcott Parsons. Scribner Library 21. New York: Charles Scribner’s.

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                                                                                                          One of the seminal works, first published in 1904 in German (Tübingen, Germany: J. C. B. Mohr), on the influence of religious teachings on societies’ goals. Weber argues that Calvinist beliefs led to a valuation of earning money as an end goal, because being economically successful in itself is considered worthwhile. He then investigates the relationship between denomination and modernization, which he tests empirically in later work. Dense and expansive work.

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                                                                                                          Work Values

                                                                                                          The way in which work and values influence each other has been a sociological topic since Weber. Most current scholars argue that personal values affect occupational decisions, while others maintain that experiencing occupational conditions influences basic values. An important proponent of the latter view is Melvin Kohn (Kohn 1977). A modern, related approach can be found in Ralston, et al. 2008. Theoretical considerations on the link between work and values are outlined in the interesting George and Jones 1997. There have been some attempts to link work values to Shalom Schwartz’s basic value system (Schwartz 1999; Ros, et al. 1999), but most scholars either employ Geert Hofstede’s dimensions or use a specific set that typically consists of at least the following work values: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, achievement, freedom, and social relations. There is an extensive body of research on generational differences in work values. An early influential article is Lindsay and Knox 1984, but more-recent studies tend to appear outside the sociological journals. In management studies, a good example on generational differences in work values can be found in Cennamo and Gardner 2008, and an overview of this topic is in Parry and Urwin 2011.

                                                                                                          • Cennamo, Lucy, and Dianne Gardner. 2008. Generational differences in work values, outcomes and person-organisation values fit. Journal of Managerial Psychology 23.8: 891–906.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1108/02683940810904385Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Addresses whether generations differ in work values, but finds no major differences. Although the authors cannot distinguish birth cohort (or generation) effects from age effects in their cross-sectional design, younger and older managers differ very little in most work values.

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                                                                                                            • George, Jennifer M., and Gareth R. Jones. 1997. Experiencing work: Values, attitudes, and moods. Human Relations 50.4: 393–416.

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                                                                                                              Describes clearly how work values may differ from work attitudes and moods at work, and how these three concepts are interrelated. Gives some examples of how work outcomes could be influenced by values. No empirical results.

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                                                                                                              • Kohn, Melvin L. 1977. Class and conformity: A study in values. 2d ed. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                                The classic text on how values are shaped by the occupational experience. Highly influential. Kohn shows in three studies how the level of self-direction that people have at their jobs correlates with how much they value conformity. Although he is aware of the possible reciprocal nature of the relationship, this is not tested in the book. Since this was written, education has proven to be of much more importance than self-direction at work for the development of conformity values or authoritarianism.

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                                                                                                                • Lindsay, Paul, and William E. Knox. 1984. Continuity and change in work values among young adults: A longitudinal study. American Journal of Sociology 89.4: 918–931.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1086/227950Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  One of the early longitudinal studies examining the reciprocal effects of intrinsic and extrinsic work values and occupation. The authors include education as a mediating variable and find that education increases intrinsic work values. The paper concludes with some remarks on the economic context in which work aspects are valued.

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                                                                                                                  • Parry, Emma, and Peter Urwin. 2011. Generational differences in work values: A review of theory and evidence. International Journal of Management Reviews 13.1: 79–96.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2370.2010.00285.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Nice overview of the generational perspective on values as the term has been used in the organizational literature, while also providing a sociological discussion for organizational scholars on what generations are. Finds mixed empirical evidence for generational differences in work values, and the authors deem other individual differences more important. Concludes also that there have been very few studies that actually employed a design suitable for studying generational differences in work values.

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                                                                                                                    • Ralston, David A., David H. Holt, Robert H. Terpstra, and Yu Kai-Cheng. 2008. The impact of national culture and economic ideology on managerial work values: A study of the United States, Russia, Japan, and China. Journal of International Business Studies 39.1: 8–26.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.jibs.8400330Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Studies whether national culture (individualistic versus collectivistic) or economic ideology (capitalist versus socialist) affects work values, measured on Swartz Value Survey scales. The authors find neither global divergence nor convergence of work values.

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                                                                                                                      • Ros, Maria, Shalom H. Schwartz, and Shoshana Surkiss. 1999. Basic individual values, work values, and the meaning of work. Applied Psychology: An International Review 48.1: 49–71.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1464-0597.1999.tb00048.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Attempts to provide further empirical tests to the relation between Schwartz values and work values.

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                                                                                                                        • Schwartz, Shalom H. 1999. A theory of cultural values and some implications for work. Applied Psychology: An International Review 48.1: 23–47.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1464-0597.1999.tb00047.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Relates national differences with the goals or rewards that people seek through their work. Provides an overview of possible hypotheses on these relations, as well as limited testing. Also provides a nice and very concise discussion on how country-level and individual-level values necessarily show a different structure.

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                                                                                                                          Family Values and Gender (Roles)

                                                                                                                          A separate important field in values research can be found in the literature on family and gender. Changes in opinions on gender (in)equality have been observed worldwide and have been a long-term topic in sociological research; see Thornton and Young-DeMarco 2001 or Brewster and Padavic 2000 for excellent examples. It is, however, a very broad area of research that covers many topics, including gender roles, same-sex relationships (Lubbers, et al. 2009), and mate preferences (Buss, et al. 2001), to name just a few. There is a larger body of research in this field on the consequences of gender and family values for behavior, both on the national level, such as Inglehart and Norris 2003, and on the individual level, such as Johnson 2005. There is also a steady body of research on the effect of gender on values, of which an important example is Beutel and Marini 1995.

                                                                                                                          • Beutel, Ann M., and Margaret Mooney Marini. 1995. Gender and values. American Sociological Review 60.3: 436–448.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/2096423Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            Employs a longitudinal American data set among high-school students to assess gender differences in three types of values, of which materialism is the most commonly studied value. Differences between men and women are partly interpreted by differences in their level of religiosity. Although slightly outdated, it is again a laudable attempt to go beyond the black box of gender differences in values. Value differences between men and women remain significant over the studied period (1977–1991).

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                                                                                                                            • Brewster, Karin L., and Irene Padavic. 2000. Change in gender-ideology, 1977–1996: The contributions of intracohort change and population turnover. Journal of Marriage and Family 62.2: 477–487.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2000.00477.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Much-cited paper that addresses the causes of observed changes in gender ideology or family values. Shows a growing divide between men and women and finds some evidence for generational differences.

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                                                                                                                              • Buss, David M., Todd K. Shackelford, Lee A. Kirkpatrick, and Randy L. Larsen. 2001. A half century of mate preferences: The cultural evolution of values. Journal of Marriage and Family 63.2: 491–503.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2001.00491.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                Although it is questionable whether preferred qualities in mates actually represent values of the individual, this paper is very interesting. Shows some regional variation, change over time, and persistent differences between sexes on what is deemed important in a mate. But overall, men and women became more alike in what they value, driven mostly by changes in men.

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                                                                                                                                • Inglehart, Ronald, and Pippa Norris. 2003. Rising tide: Gender equality and cultural change around the world. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511550362Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  Another one of Inglehart’s works, this time with Norris on the causes and consequences of changing societal gender roles. And again, they bring together impressive amounts of data to substantiate the main claim that modernization—that is, the shift from traditional agrarian societies to advanced industrialized nations—brings about more gender equality, albeit with different paces depending on other characteristics of countries, such as religious heritage.

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                                                                                                                                  • Johnson, Monica Kirkpatrick. 2005. Family roles and work values: Processes of selection and change. Journal of Marriage and Family 67.2: 352–369.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/j.0022-2445.2005.00121.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Studies how values and behaviors in two related fields may influence each other, with evidence for reciprocal relationships being presented. Innovative use of a longitudinal design. Work values influence family behavior and vice versa.

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                                                                                                                                    • Lubbers, Marcel, Eva Jaspers, and Wout Ultee. 2009. Primary and secondary socialization impacts on support for same-sex marriage after legalization in the Netherlands. Journal of Family Issues 30.12: 1714–1745.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/0192513X09334267Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Studies a wide range of what the authors call socializing agents, including socialization of the parents into religions and education as a possible explanation for attitude formation. Most important contribution is the inclusion not only of one’s own and parental religiosity, but also of the neighborhood, for which small but significant effects are found.

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                                                                                                                                      • Thornton, Arland, and Linda Young-DeMarco. 2001. Four decades of trends in attitudes toward family issues in the United States: The 1960s through the 1990s. Journal of Marriage and the Family 63.4: 1009–1037.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2001.01009.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        The authors show steep trends in freedom and equality regarding family formation and family life in the United States, but stability in commitment to marriage and the family. On some issues (e.g., cohabitation, age at marriage), younger and older birth cohorts are markedly different in opinions. There is growing endorsement for gender equality, but a persistent endorsement of a gendered division of labor in the household.

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