Ronald Inglehart gave a talk on the roots of authoritarianism
Ronald Inglehart (LCSR HSE, University of Michigan) gave a talk at the 9th LCSR International Workshop “Comparative Social Research” with report “From an Authoritarian Personality to an Authoritarian Reflex: Evolving Views on a Sustainable Phenomenon.” Growing support for xenophobic parties and leaders like Trump is often described as “authoritarian,” but what does this mean? This presentation examines the roots of authoritarianism, their relation to other widely studied phenomena and their empirical connection with modern politics.
The main hypothesis of the study is that concepts of “authoritarian personality” and “materialism / post-materialism” are essentially based on the same phenomenon, despite the fact that they appeared within the framework of different theories.
In order to test the hypothesis, representative sample surveys were conducted in the USA, Canada, Mexico and the Indian state of Karnataka using a non-standard scale for measuring authoritarianism introduced in the 1980s, and a 12-part Inglehart post-materialism scale developed in 1973.
The results indicate that post-materialism is the opposite pole of authoritarianism. In addition, it appears that both authoritarianism and post-materialism are based on the same phenomenon, which was assessed by many other researchers and is known by such names as “individualism-collectivism”, “autonomy-involvement”, and also “closed culture - open culture.
The report provides evidence that a high or low level of development of this phenomenon is associated with a high or low level of existential sense of security in a particular society, as well as with economic development. The high level of existing security contributes to the growth of support for gender equality, immigrants, protection of the outside world and democracy. The population is becoming more tolerant of other people, different from it, as well as new ideas and social norms. In countries where the level of economic and physical security is low, an authoritarian type of government is often observed, strict control over the observance of traditional cultural norms, and popularization of xenophobic movements are observed.
The report also proposes an explanation of the reasons for the high popularity of xenophobic movements in societies that give the impression of financially safe and relatively protected.