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Socio-Economic Inequality and Cultural Fragmentation in Western Societies

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

This article examines the relation between socio-economic inequality and disparities of democratic values in Western societies. It discusses three perspectives on democratic attitudes and values – rising inequality, social capital, and postmaterialism – and explores to what extent cross-national patterns and trends in value disparities are in agreement with the predicted outcomes of these perspectives. Use is made of the World Value Survey and the European Value Study to explore these value disparities. The results do not provide unequivocal support for any of the three perspectives. The patterns on some values are in line with the rising inequality perspective, while those on others are consistent with the other two perspectives. Low and high incomes have come to drift apart on democratic values, which is what the rising inequalities perspective would expect. But these widening disparities are unrelated to socio-economic inequalities. It is proposed that socio-economic inequalities primarily affect mean levels of democratic values while individualism is the key factor producing value divergence.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Education, University of London 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL, UK

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/content/journals/10.1163/156913308x289078
2008-04-01
2016-12-05

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