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Comparative Perspectives on Social Values and Modernization, First Day, April 24, 2011

The Laboratory for Comparative Social Studies hosted the international workshop «Comparative Perspectives on Social Values and Modernization» in Saint Petersburg on April 24-27 2011.

Ronald Inglehart

During the first plenary session Ronald Inglehart, academic advisor of LCSS, delivered an opening lecture on cultural changes, democracy and democratic peace thesis on April, 24, 2011.

To begin with, professor Inglehart had focused on current progressive economic development that leads to systematic shift of values. The trends change towards gender equality, greater tolerance towards gays, foreigners and out-groups. He also mentioned diminishing xenophobia and expansion of democracy in general. These findings are based on empirical evidence World Values Survey – the first global survey of mass values that covers over 90% of the world’s population.

Intensive development and cultural changes are connected with industrialization and post-industrial processes in the society. Industrialization leads to shift from traditional to secular values, during post-industrialization values change from survival to self-expression. Many values can be categorized in these two dimensions only. So, the countries can be put onto two-dimensional map where X-axis is “Survival-Self-Expression” and Y-axis is “Traditional vs Secular”. This map was designed by professor Inglehart basing on WVS database. Ronald Inglehart mentioned that these two scales are very reliable and can be applied for various indicators, waves and groups of countries. Speaking about his empirical results, it is important that a transition from traditional to survival values happened in the most countries of the former Soviet Union after the collapse of the state.

According to democratic peace thesis democracies almost never fight each other. It means that the spread of democracy is conducive to international peace. Does democratic peace happen due to democracy or to modernization? From one side, democracies used to fight each other, then democratic peace was established due to modernization and cultural changes. From the other side, all the contemporary democracies are economically and culturally highly modernized which is the major reason why they do not fight each other.

In the conclusion, professor Inglehart told that if economic crisis overgrows in the Great Depression of the 21st century, all these positive trends may start to move to reverse side.  As the result we may face resurgent xenophobia, nationalism, authoritarianism and rising risk of wars.


Leonid Kosals

To begin with, Leonid Kosals, senior researcher of LCSS, explained the importance of anomie phenomenon for social studies. This process is a result of rapid and radical changes of the key elements of social system such as social institutions and social stratification. These changes lead to transformations of values and norms.

Professor Kosals mentioned Durkheim and Merton who studied anomie in their classical works. Durkheim defined anomie as lack of social norms. Merton assumed that anomie is characterized by ambivalence in norms: strong orientation on material well-being vs. shortage of the legitimate means to achieve success. Leonid Kosals takes the first definition for his research. The researcher also adds some issues to Durkheim understanding of anomie. According to Kosals, anomie is uncertainty in social norms, social roles, people’s behavior, and structure of the society in a whole.

Social anomie is measured by the following indicators: amount of ambiguous replies (“I don’t know”, “no answer” etc) and a group of questions that describes one of social elements (e.g. an institution) from different points of view. The researcher assumes that the level of social anomie is the highest in transition countries and the lowest in Scandinavian region.

In his empirical part professor Kosals based on European Social Survey database and on data of Levada-centre. He used ambiguous replies in three fields (politics, values and social integration) as indicators of anomie.

Leonid Kosals stated that high level of anomie correlates with low income level and poor education, very young or elderly age, low levels of trust, honesty, mutual help; and with hogh level of religious activity.

In the end, professor Kosals summarized his results. He rejected all the original hypotheses: there is no significant difference in anomie level between transition countries and other European states. The level of anomie in Russia is only a little higher than in Europe. In Scandinavian countries (especially in Denmark) the highest levels of individual anomie is observed.

The researcher assumes that certain level of anomie should exist in every country for its development.


Evgeny Varshaver

Topic:  "The Effect of Values on Ethnic Cleavages in Global Cities"

Evgeny follows certain logics in his research. Migrants bring values from their sending country to the receiving society. Different values provide various types of relations in between social groups. The author supposes that difference in values is predominantly evident in attitudes towards women and ethnicities. Ethnic cleavages happen mostly as a result of different values, but ethnic diversity in certain society and migration policy of the state also matter.

At the moment Evgeny tries to cope with certain methodological and technical problems. For example, he is not sure, whether to use some databases that already exist or to form his own one. He asked the audience to consult him.

Anna Nemirovskaya

Topic:  "Social Tolerance in Harsh Conditions"

Anna’s study tends to enrich the concept of social tolerance by exploring it in harsh life conditions, such as poverty, war, political instability on cross-cultural level. Many scholars point out at the correlation between social tolerance, social status, ethnicity, level of income and life satisfaction. Anna also plans to use these variables, but she adds several global indices such as quality of life, corruption perception index, economic freedom etc. that should help to define and explain the level of social tolerance in various countries. 

Yegor Lazarev

Topic:  "The Impact of Inequality on Support for Democracy"

Yegor has started his presentation with the motto of the French Revolution that illustrates his case well: “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité!” The author studies the influence of income inequality (Égalité) on support of democracy (Liberté) and how this inequality is seen in redistribution support. The basic hypothesis of the scholar is that the higher is inequality, the stronger if support of democracy (which is operationalized as an aggregated index made up from several WVS variables). But after analysis it turned out that income inequality lowers people’s positive attitude towards democracy.

Anna Almakaeva

Topic:  "Out-group Trust and Its Determinants: An Example of In-group Trust"

The aim of this project is to study interdependence between in-group and out-group trust. Anna used indices of these two types of trust. In-group trust shows trust towards family members, neighbors and to other people, whom one knows personally. The second index is formed from trust towards people of different ethnic and religious background and towards unknown people in general. Using various methods of analysis (predominantly regression modeling) the researcher comes to a conclusion that high in-trust level (for example, in the family) doesn’t influence on out-group trust. Before that it was assumed that there is a direct correlation between these two. 

Vera Titkova

Topic:  "Values and Wars: The Level of Modernization and Causation of Conflicts" (New project!)

Vera studies wars and third parts in them. She focuses on 2 questions: which features of actors lead to their involvement into the conflict and whether values and norms matter for the probability of wars. Vera assumes that countries and third parts are more likely to be involved into the military conflict if their values differ significantly or they have various characteristics (such as political or economic structure). The researcher plans to test these hypotheses by Quadratic Assignment Procedure and Exponential Random Graph model.

David Ong, Nadejda Shilova

Topic:  "Xenophobia in the laboratory" (New project!)

Xenophobia is usually defined as intolerance towards foreigners. Migration, socio-economic changes, nationalism, globalization may become sources of such an attitude. The researchers decided to test all these hypotheses in the laboratory. They conduct an economic experiment. The participants get certain amount of tokens which they can invest or not invest in something common. Then the money is given to all the participants but those who went “free riding” are punished. The authors want to figure out whether nationalism correlates with growing investments and punishment for “free riding”.