Searching for European Values

Monday, July 14, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: 416
Oral Presentation
Loek HALMAN , Tilburg University, Netherlands
Since 1981, the European Values Study group is searching for the values of the Europeans by means of surveys in an expanding number of countries. The latest wave took place in 2008 and included all 45 countries (with more than 100.000 inhabitants) on the European continent. We aim at a repeat survey in 2017.

It was attempted to identify value systems, but in general values appeared not in clustered coherent patterns, but the patterns found and values that could be identified were domain specific. It means that values could be identified with regard to various life domains and it is hard if not impossible to find overarching values.

What also was revealed in and repeatedly found since the first wave in 1981 is that Europe is far from homogeneous when it comes to basic values. Despite its common Christian history, the values of the people in the European countries appear rather diverse and the European unification has not (yet?) resulted in a converging of the values of the Europeans. Ideas of multiple or varieties of modernities (e.g., Eisenstadt; Schmidt) and path dependency (e,g., Inglehart) seem to be confirmed by such results.

In this paper I focus on European values in 2008 and elaborate on our efforts to find patterns in values distinguished in various value domains (religion and morality; politics and society; primary relations; work and leisure time).  The data allow to identity one or two more fundamental orientations which appear to be underlying the orientations in the distinctive value domains. Perhaps such results are disappointing but they illustrate the wide variety in values that exist in contemporary Europe despite its ongoing process of unification.