The Impact of Economic Structure and Solidarity Mechanism on the Rise of ‘Emancipative Values': Lessons Learnt from Analysing Historical Trends Using Data from World Values Survey

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Hörsaal 30 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Wing Shek Adrian LUI, Macquarie University, Australia
Welzel’s evolutionary theory of emancipation (2013) argues that there is a general global trend towards a rise in ‘emancipative values’, which are essential for democratisation and the maintenance of liberal democratic political institutions. However, an analysis on historical trends in East Asian and Western societies based on data from all six waves of World Values Survey data suggests a slightly different picture. While there is a general global trend towards the rise of two domains of emancipative values: ‘equality’ and ‘choice’, a volatile pattern can be found in the other two domains: ‘autonomy’ and ‘voice’.

This paper attempts to explain these diverse patterns by re-examining the key assumption of Inglehart and Welzel (2005) and Welzel (2013) that the rise of ‘emancipative values’ is driven by the change in socio-economic structures from agricultural, industrial to post-industrial societies. Post-industrial societies, in particular, encourage ‘emancipative values’ due to the increasing economic needs to communicate with people, process information and create new ideas. Apart from analysing the impact of this macro-level socio-economic factor, this paper also examines possible influences from cultural heritages and solidarity mechanisms, including associations in civil societies and social welfare arrangements, which allow values to spread among members in a given society. The findings from this analysis provide insights for refining Welzel’s evolutionary theory of emancipation and the measurement tools that can be used to measure ‘emancipative values’ for a better understanding of this phenomenon.


Inglehart, Ronald and Christian Welzel. 2005. Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Welzel, Christian. 2013. Freedom Rising: Human Empowerment and the Quest for Emancipation New York: Cambridge University Press.