Title page for ETD etd-05082004-115347

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Nickens, Bradley Harrison
Author's Email Address bnickens@vt.edu
URN etd-05082004-115347
Title Postmaterialism and Democracy: What Does the Postmaterialist Value Shift Mean for Democracy?
Degree Master of Arts
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Taylor, Charles Lewis Committee Chair
Brians, Craig Leonard Committee Member
Luke, Timothy W. Committee Member
  • United States
  • Western Europe
  • Ronald Inglehart
  • direct democracy
  • political participation
  • value change
  • postmaterialism
  • World Values Survey
Date of Defense 2004-04-29
Availability unrestricted
This thesis explores the possible impact of a postmaterialist value shift on the future of

democracy in advanced industrial democratic countries.

Research over the past few decades has questioned the responsiveness of representative

democratic institutions in advanced industrial democracies to individual and communal

needs in society. Radical democratic theorists have called for direct action, structural

reform, and other social and political changes to make democracy “stronger.” Increased

education levels brought on by continued economic and physical security in advanced

industrial societies has led to a change in the ability of citizens to access the political

process. How the relationship between the citizen and the state is altered as a result of

continued prosperity is a primary motivation for this research.

Working with World Values Survey data, I examine individual and societal level

relationships between postmaterial values and direct political participation and

acceptance of participatory values. Empirical evidence supports the hypotheses that

postmaterial values are positively associated with direct political participation and as the

level of Postmaterialists increases in a given society the level of participatory behavior

and acceptance of participatory values will also increase. Substantive analysis suggests

that increase in the level of postmaterialism in a country will lead to increases in

alternative political activity and other forms of direct participation.

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