PSA Conference 2015 Paper: ‘Modernisation Theory And Support For Liberal Values In Great Britain: A Quantitative Approach’

I’ve finally finished re-drafting my paper I’m presenting at the Political Studies Association 2015 Annual International Conference. I’ll be presenting my paper, ‘Modernisation Theory And Support For Liberal Values In Great Britain: A Quantitative Approach‘ on the ‘Liberal values, identity and public opinion’ panel for the Liberals and Liberalism specialist group.

This will be the first time I’ve given a paper, or indeed given any real academic presentation in any meaningful sense. I’m fairly confident that I know the theoretical side of my paper, specifically modernisation theory and postmaterial values, but if someone asks anything more than a perfunctory methodological question I’ll probably just have to respond with ‘h8z stay mad’.

Overall, though, I’m fairly happy with this paper, and I’m hoping to get it published next year once I get a bit stronger on the quantitative side of things. The idea emerged from my MA dissertation, which used a similar methodology to examine the role of modernisation theory and postmaterial values on support for democracy in Poland, Ukraine and Russia. If I have some success publishing this paper, it’s likely I’ll also update and try to publish my dissertation too.

If you’ve got half an hour or so to kill, you can read the paper on my academia.edu page by clicking here. Please do comment and let me know what you think!

I’d also like to thank Gareth Anderson for reading it over and pointing out various errors. Much appreciated!

For now, I’ll leave you with the abstract.

This paper will quantitatively examine the extent to which modernisation theory is able to explain the holding of ‘small-l’ liberal values in Great Britain. Firstly, this paper identifies economic development, increased education, emergence of a strong civil society, and the increased prevalence of the holding of postmaterial values as four key aspects of modernisation. Following this, a quantitative analysis is undertaken to measure the extent to which each of these factors influence individual-level support for liberal values, (measured by support for a democratic system of government, the importance of gender equality, and support for tolerance of minorities). This is done using the World Values Survey (2005-2009 wave) dataset.

This aim of the paper is twofold. Firstly, it attempts to ‘plug a gap’ in the modernisation literature, where the bulk of research focuses on the macro, rather than the individual, level. Secondly, it challenges the argument made by Inglehart and Welzel (2010) that the effect of modernisation on liberal values is fully transmitted via the development of postmaterial values. This paper shows that whilst all aspects of modernisation play a role in explaining the holding of liberal values, there remains a gap in the models that is unaccounted for by the theory – thus, we must cast a wider conceptual net should we wish to fully understand what causes individuals to hold these values. Furthermore, postmaterial values are shown to be less important than Inglehart and Welzel claim.

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