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7. Freedom or Equality

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Chapter Summary

Freedom and equality are defining issues in politics. In general, liberals would argue that freedom comes first and even that freedom is a prerequisite for equality. For socialists and social democrats, it is the other way around: equality is more important than freedom. The conceptual problem is that liberals and socialists have different understandings of the two concepts and of the relationship between them. The author begins this chapter by describing the item in the European Values Study (EVS) questionnaire where the respondent is asked to choose between freedom and equality as political goals. The chapter continues with a discussion of two possible theoretical interpretations (Rokeach's value research and political philosophy) of the operationalization. This leads to an analytic strategy where the author argues for the choice of equality as a political goal as the focal point of interest.

Keywords: equality; European Values Study (EVS); freedom; political philosophy; Rokeach's value research; socialists



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