Based on the University of Michigan's long-running and massive World Values Survey, this book provides substantial empirical support for the concept of modernization -- that is, that economic, social, and political development are linked in coherent ways and that all societies undergoing modernization tend to follow certain consistent trajectories. While eschewing deterministic or linear theories of historical development, Inglehart notes that virtually all highly developed societies are experiencing a shift from industrial-age values such as economic and physical security or a strong work ethic to "postmodern" values emphasizing quality of life or self- expression. The book's data give support to the classic Lipset correlation between economic development and democracy, and adds an important cultural variable to the explanation for why these phenomena are linked: interpersonal trust and organizational membership, factors emphasized in Robert Putnam's work on Italy, are found to be correlated with both development and democracy. Non- academics might find the book's presentation of statistical data a bit off-putting.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.
More Reviews on Political and Legal From This Issue