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Most studies of the values of Europeans and Americans conclude that recent developments reflect an increasingly strong affirmation of individualism. The question arises, however, whether the real change is not instead to be located “upstream”, in the opening up of reason to acknowledgment of the other’s reasons. Data from the 1981,1990 and 1999 editions of the World Values Survey were used to test this hypothesis. After synthesizing the data in accordance with the seven survey theme areas (lifestyles, civic-mindedness, social selectiveness, religion, work, family and education), we examined congruence between these units and our model. We also tested competing models; namely postmaterialism, “return to authority”, and modernity as the only rational world. In the final analysis, the “advance of reasonableness” thesis proved more general and parcimonious than the others as a means of accounting for value trends in Western Europe and the United States from 1980 to 2000.

Michel Forsé
Maxime Parodi
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