Human Values and Modernization: A Global Analysis

Authors: Korotayev, Andrey; Zinkina, Julia; Elena Slinko; Kira Meshcherina
Journal: Journal of Globalization Studies. Volume 10, Number 1 / May 2019


We offer a world-wide analysis of the variation of human values with modernization. Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel, the authors of the Human Development Sequence Theory, suggest modernization to be one of the main processes forming the value structures in a population. The current paper investigates the relation between values and modernization applying some elements of the method proposed by Inglehart and Welzel to the data of Shalom Schwartz. The values survey by Schwartz specifies two main value axes, namely conservation/openness to change and self-transcendence/self-enhancement. Our research has revealed that the correlation between these two value axes differs in its direction when estimated for ‘macro-Europe’ (including Europe and former settlement colonies of North and South America and Oceania) and ‘Afrasia’ (including Asia and Africa). In the Western world there is a significant positive correlation between openness to change and self-transcendence, while in the Eastern world this correlation is strong, significant, and negative. We investigate the possible impact of modernization on this difference. To do this, we approximate modernization through such indicators as GDP per capita and the proportions of the labour force employed in various sectors of economy. We find that in both megazones modernization is accompanied by increasing openness to change. As for the self-transcendence/self-enhancement axis, we propose two possible explanations of the different dynamics observed in Europe and in ‘the East’ (Asia and North Africa), namely 1) that Eastern and Western societies find themselves at different modernization stages, and 2) different civilizational patterns. Further analysis makes the latter explanation look more plausible.

Keywords: global modernization, ‘macro-Europe’, ‘Afrasia’, human values, openness to change, Schwartz value axes, self-transcendence, GDP per capita, the West, the East. 

Andrey Korotayev is head and Professor of the Laboratory for Monitoring of Sociopolitical Destabilization Risks, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow more

Julia Zinkina is a specialist in the field of analysis of complex systems and processes more

Elena Slinko

Kira Meshcherina