Do Equality Values Differ in Asian and Western Cultures? Results from the Social Inequality Module of the ISSP 2009

Monday, July 14, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: 416
Oral Presentation
Wolfgang JAGODZINSKI , University of Cologne, Germany
Whether certain values are unique or specific to a group, a nation, or a culture, has been a topic of lengthy debates. During the last decades the interest has shifted from smaller to larger collectives and from smaller to larger regions. The European Values Surveys was an early attempt to identify cultural values, first in West European societies, and later in Europe as a whole. Whether the goal of the enterprise has been reached remains an open question. What most European societies really distinguish from other societies is the millennia-long Christian tradition. But has this tradition also brought forth unique values? And if so, are they still influential in modern societies?

In the nineties a similar debate started in Asia. Asian values were initially seen as a stronghold against Western value imperialism and against Western democratization. The results of the empirical research in many respects resembled the European findings on value pluralism. Dalton and Nhu-Ngoc (2005) could not identify specific and homogeneous value patterns in the Confucian societies. Rather, family orientations and respect of authorities largely varied in Asian countries.

This will not be the end of the debate on Asian values. There are so many visible differences between Asian and Western cultures that the search for specific underlying Asian or Confucian values will continue. Education and work values, as well as economic and social inequalities might be domains in which specific Asian values have emerged. The paper focuses on values which are related to social and economic inequalities and tries to find out by means of multi-level analyses of the ISSP Social Inequality Module 2009 whether and to what extent these values are affected by different cultural backgrounds and whether Asian societies in particular differ from societies with a Christian tradition.