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Individualization in Europe and America: Connecting Religious and Moral Values

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

After reviewing the major variations in how individualization is interpreted and explained, this article turns to the World Values Survey (WVS) data to empirically investigate one central aspect of individualization, namely, the connection between religiosity and moral values. That analysis demonstrates, first, that rates of decline in levels of religiosity in most advanced industrial states have been quite modest. The rate of change in moral outlooks, by contrast, has been much more striking. Those two core findings, we argue, draw attention to the question of what explains these cross-national and cross-time variations. The remainder of the article empirically explores a variety of plausible explanations. The results of that analysis reveal not only significant variations between European and North American publics, but also that associational behavior plays a significant role in gearing the dynamics of individualization.


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