Frontier Societies: Culture and Social Institutions

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 6:30 PM
Room: Booth 51
Oral Presentation
Roberto FOA , Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Anna NEMIROVSKAYA , Laboratory for Comparative Social Research, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Saint Petersburg, Russia
The paper presents a cross-cultural study of contemporary frontier societies, based on analysis of World Values Survey data from the USA, the Russian Federation, Canada, Australia, Argentina, and Brazil. Consistent with  Turner's "frontier thesis", we find that frontier societies carry a common syndrome of socio-cultural attributes, ranging from higher levels of membership in voluntary associations and civic activism, to greater libertarianism and skepticism of government. The “frontier thesis” therefore explains not only the historical experience of America, but constitutes a common frontier phenomenon in other world regions and continents, with different settling patterns of new lands. The experience of living on the border areas leads to the formation of a stable set of values, distinctive features of frontier life, such as individualism, egalitarianism, libertarian commitment to the principles of economics, social activism, higher levels of social trust and tolerance of outgroups, civic protest, social conservatism, traditionalism, less support for the federal government rule and others.