Society and Democracy in Europe
This comparative study examines what kinds of societal forces shape European relationships towards democratic political life in contemporary Europe.
Drawing on data from the European Social Survey (ESS), the book develops a theoretical perspective on the relationship between social structure and democracy and links this to research on social capital and political behaviour. The authors explore the impact of individual social characteristics on a broad range of the Europeans’ political attitudes and behaviours. They investigate how the social position of the individuals in the European societies contributes to the explanation of the national and cross-national patterns of political engagement, addressing trust in the social and political environment, life satisfaction, party preferences and attitudes towards migration and migrants.
Providing detailed descriptions of the similarities and differences among the various European publics at the beginning of the 21st century, Society and Democracy in Europe will be of strong interest to students and scholars of European politics, political participation and political sociology.
We focus on one of these aspects of value theory that has remained relatively underexposed, namely the relation between individual social location and human values. Does one’s position in the social structure—indicated by socio-demographic variables such as age, gender, education and income—affect the values that one prioritizes? We pay special attention to the cross-cultural robustness of the relation between social location and values: Can similar patterns be detected in various European countries? Or do cross-national differences in the relation between structure and values depend on elements of the national context?
We depart from Schwartz’ (1992, 1994, 2006) theory of human values, and make use of the value scale included in the European Social Survey (ESS). We believe that this study adds up to existing research in various ways. First, an exceptionally wide range of European countries is taken into account, including various Eastern European countries. Second, we take up the issue of the cross-cultural equivalence of the measurements. Prior to substantive analysis, we test to what extent different cultural interpretations of values affect the validity of cross-national comparisons. Third, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that explicitly addresses the question whether national context affects the relation between social location and values.