Social location and value priorities. A European-wide comparison of the relation between social-structural variables and human values
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.