Change in values

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The term change in values denotes a change in social and individual norms and values .

Enduring and changing values

The values of mankind have changed at all times in the course of historical development. One example is the principle of retaliation for bodily harm , as set out in the Old Testament (“an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”): While bodily harm is dealt with in a very different way today, both legally and in terms of moral assessment, the principle of “an eye für Auge ”for its part already represented a turning point. It had a mitigating effect and was intended to avoid excessive blood revenge.

Values ​​are relatively permanent when they seem to result from reasons of self and existence preservation.

With changing ways of thinking old reasons are as illogical as "only" religiously justified or perceived as useless and corresponding values (for example, modesty , holiday sanctification, food taboos ) account over time or be tolerated alongside different new at best.

The essential contents of the terms “value” and “norm” are defined differently in the disciplines of the human sciences due to their respective methods and terminology. Varying interpretations also occur within the discipline. The concept of “changing values” is consequently affected: In his philosophical work on the theory of morality, Werner Heistermann , Rector of the Berlin University of Education , denied the crisis of moral values ​​that was already mentioned in 1966. With this rejection, he did not consider changing these values ​​either. They are "free of crises and clear like the sense of yes and no." In contrast, he saw the problem of a related crisis, which he continued to investigate later, in the "attitudes that are dependent on a certain mode of production and a certain social structure of society." Rupert Lay that “values ​​have been lost”. He documents the emergence of this state through events of a long-term “shift in the order of values” up to a “decline in values”. With his business-ethical plea, he calls for practical recommendations for a “new honesty” with a value-oriented effect.

A theory about the change in values ​​in a society cannot be established without considering the psychological behavior patterns of the people involved and their effects on the culture. In 1959, on the basis of phylogenetic data and psychiatric analysis, Otto Walter Haseloff described the organizational function of culture, which is useful for orientation, and the cultural dynamics as a changing “life-enhancing design of objective facts”. In this process, the different levels of integration of human beings in cultural norm systems (“structure of moral elements”) and their culture-creating design options are related to the parameters of individual age, size of the associated groups and structure of the residential area as conditions for needs regulation . Alexander and Margarete Mitscherlich examined the concept of cultural suitability used by Freud - redefined e.g. B. as the ability to empathize with others - the interactions and conditions on which the child's further development of the value interpretation conveyed by the parents, their rejection or an - albeit corrective - acceptance of the parental values ​​depends in the individual personality development. After an analysis that lasted 20 years, in 1967 they published the description of a dynamic cause-and-effect complex, which, for example, for the generation of children in post-war Germany, despite the shaking of value feelings in broad circles of society, was fixed on the prerequisite for the diffusely perceived values ​​of the parents' generation to be.

On a socio-psychological basis, Erich Fromm explained in 1976 with his approach of a philosophical anthropology having or being the development of a new society in which people “replace antagonism with solidarity”. He formulated valuable goals in the meaning of “ideals” of a social arrangement as “human well-being and the prevention of human suffering”. The mutual influence of psychology and sociology already yielded results in the first half of the 20th century. Investigations into the mentality of the human being and at the same time into his dynamic social interdependencies were already carried out in the 1930s by the German-British sociologist Norbert Elias in his main work On the Process of Civilization . The American psychologist Clare W. Graves , who published a theory of the cyclically emerging levels of existential theory , chose a different approach in the 1950s . Recently, this theory has been expanded further in the concept of Spiral Dynamics by the American psychologist Don Beck and can serve as a model for describing the change in values ​​in today's societies.

Sociological models of changing values

In the sociological investigations of the change in values ​​with regard to the direction of the change in values in the "present time", a situation is constituted in such a way that two extremes and a differentiated position are represented: On the one hand , according to Ronald Inglehart, there has been a turning away from material values ​​and a focus since the 1970s to post-material values ​​instead. Inglehart sees the change in values ​​as a shift towards a more humanistic society, which is characterized by a greater willingness to commit and by the increased orientation towards autonomy, freedom and emancipation. On the other hand , according to Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, there has been a continuous decline in values ​​since 1968. Symptoms named are the loss of meaning of church and religion, loss of authority, as well as the erosion of numerous supposed virtues (now seen more as " secondary virtues "), declining public spirit and declining political commitment. The more nuanced position refers Helmut Klages with his "concept of values synthesis". One postulated assumption is based on the assumption that a change in values ​​is a requirement of modern society and that there is a compulsion to individualize .

Ronald Inglehart: The silent revolution

In 1977 Ronald Inglehart called the silent revolution the change from materialistic to post-materialistic values caused by a socio-economic modernization process .

Materialistic values ​​include the “pursuit of prosperity”, the need for physical and economic security and an orientation towards law and order. Materialistic values ​​are related to ethnocentric attitudes and a lower level of trust and tolerance.

The post-materialistic values ​​include self-fulfillment, a stronger orientation towards freedom, emancipation and quality of life and the desire for “belonging, reputation and intellectual and aesthetic satisfaction”. Post-materialistic values, also known as self-development values, also promote gender equality, environmental protection and the desire for participation.

The theory of the silent revolution is based on the following two key hypotheses:

  1. The deficiency hypothesis: “An individual's priorities reflect the socio-economic environment. The highest subjective value is attached to those things that are relatively scarce. "
  2. The socialization hypothesis: "The relationship between the socio-economic environment and value priorities is not established on a regular basis: it happens with a considerable delay, because the unquestioned values ​​of a person largely reflect the conditions that prevailed in his developmental years."

The deficiency hypothesis is based on the hierarchical ranking of needs according to Abraham Maslow and states that orientation towards higher needs such as individual needs and self-development is only possible when the basic physiological needs are satisfied. According to Inglehart, people who live in poverty and insecurity measure materialistic orientations such as prosperity and security e.g. B. a higher value than post-materialistic values ​​such as aesthetic satisfaction or self-development. According to Inglehart's socialization hypothesis, the development of values ​​resulting from the deficiency hypothesis takes place in the developmental years of a person and the developed values ​​then remain relatively stable for the rest of life.

Inglehart supports these hypotheses with survey results from the World Values ​​Survey Association , of which he is president. The results show that short-term changes in values ​​are due to changes in the socio-economic environment. Inflation , political uncertainties or crime in a country lead to increases in materialistic values ​​in the population.

Proportions of post-material lists minus materialists by birth cohorts from 1970 to 2006.png

The long-term increase in post-material values ​​in the general population is mainly due to the fact that young birth cohorts are replacing older birth cohorts. In Europe, the birth cohorts that were socialized during the world wars and in the post-war period show lower levels of post-materialistic values ​​than younger birth cohorts, who grew up in increasing prosperity and more secure political conditions, which can be seen as evidence of the deficiency hypothesis.

International surveys have also shown a strong connection between economic prosperity and the development of post-materialistic values. Educated people also tend to have higher levels of post-materialistic values, while, according to Abramson and Inglehart, education is also an indicator of socio-economic status . In addition, a positive connection between the prosperity and the secularization of a society could be determined.

The results of the World Values ​​Surveys show that socio-economic prosperity and economic growth lead to higher levels of post-materialistic values ​​internationally. According to Inglehart and Welzel, this process is neither determined nor linear, nor does it lead to a uniform global value system, since values ​​are influenced not only by socio-economic developments, but also by religion , tradition , philosophy , migration and other factors. So the change in values ​​is not about a westernization of the world. Abramson and Inglehart also assume that the trend towards post-materialism will weaken as socio-economic modernization increases.

Modernization, changing values ​​and democracy

Inglehart and Welzel see the change in values ​​that is caused by socio-economic progress as a development towards a more humanistic society. Due to the increasing development of self-development values, the universal human desire for autonomy can be fulfilled and so the modernization process can be understood less as a rationalization of authorities according to Max Weber , but rather as an emancipation of authorities.

According to Inglehart and Welzel, the socio-economic modernization process leads to “material, intellectual and social independence”, so that the individual has the opportunity to act in a self-determined manner. Due to the change in values, this self-determined action is prioritized. In addition, self-development values ​​are increasingly manifesting themselves in institutions and so the change in values ​​indirectly causes the democratization of a society. Inglehart and Welzel show that self-development values ​​have a strong influence on the development of formal and especially effective democracies. However, the effects of democratic institutions on self-development values ​​are small. Effective democratization processes are based on the increase in self-development values ​​and not on the attempt to institutionally construct democracy.


There is scientific criticism of the change in values ​​according to Inglehart, for example, with regard to items for determining the expression of materialistic and post-materialistic values. In 1970 four items were used to determine these values, later twelve. There is also criticism of the " dichotomy between materialists and post-materialists, uncritical reception of AH Maslow's hierarchy of needs [and the] generation hypothesis with regard to the carriers of change".

Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann: The Danger of Decline in Values

While Inglehart interprets the changes in value observed in the Federal Republic as progress towards a higher quality level of social and political development, others warn of the dangers of the change in values . Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann predicts that the advance of self-development values ​​at the expense of traditional civic duties ( Prussian virtues ) will result in social disintegration. The decline in values ​​of modern young people had resulted in a generation conflict that had become clear in 1968 and its intensity was previously unknown.

As an example, Noelle-Neumann mentions the decrease in people's ties to religion and church, the dwindling acceptance of the restriction of individual freedoms through norms, hierarchies or authorities, the loss of importance of traditional virtues such as courtesy, good behavior, punctuality, orderliness, cleanliness, frugality Replacement of the bourgeois ethics of achievement through increasing leisure-time orientation and the decline in the sense of community and the ability to bind people to get involved in political communities in tried and tested forms.

She sees this development as a danger to the pluralistic society. She sees some possibilities of influence in a more value-oriented education and a change in public opinion.

Helmut Klages: Value synthesis instead of value decline

Typology of changing values

Helmut Klages intends to create an orderly description of reality or the conceptual structure “change in values” using a typification approach. In doing so, he refers on the one hand to the “dimension of self-development values”, which largely corresponds to Inglehart's post-materialism , and on the other hand to the dimension of duty and acceptance values . The self-development values ​​are "composed of two rather heterogeneous value complexes: on the one hand from the values ​​of a society-related [...], on the other hand from individualistic or hedonistic values ​​[...]" Klages, 1984.

Through the cross-classification of the two dimensions, or variables, Klages creates a four-field matrix, on the basis of which he receives four "types of values". In addition to the “pure” value types, which either tend towards a more or less closed answer towards “mandatory and acceptable values” (conventionalists), or towards self-development values ​​(idealists), he also receives two mixed types. These mixed types break down on the one hand into the type that shows low characteristics in the two dimensions (resigned), and on the other hand, shows high characteristics (realists). Klages continues to understand the “realist” type as the so-called value synthesis.

At Klages “value synthesis” is the central term. According to this, old and new values ​​do not have to be in opposition to one another, but can even develop a productive interaction with many people (especially with active realists). Following Klages, Thomas Gensicke showed that today's youth even has a general tendency to synthesize values. Both show how the concept of value synthesis was developed and how the value synthesis works.

Discussion of Inglehart's hypotheses

Helmut Klages agrees with Inglehart that there has been a change in values ​​in industrial societies and, through empirical studies, comes to the conclusion that values ​​such as obedience and subordination are clearly declining, while independence and free will normatively increase. In the fact that the pair of values ​​“love of order” and “diligence” permanently remains at a relatively constant level, Klages sees a flaw in Inglehart's thesis that the change in values ​​is completely in one direction.

One point of criticism by Klages is based on the thesis that the correlation between the level of the gross national product and the development of an individualistic complex of values ​​is less related to the increase in post-material values ​​than to a development that is caused by our education and employment system. Furthermore, Klages agrees with Inglehart's thesis that there is an obvious connection between individualistic values ​​and the level of education.

Relationship between level of education and individualistic values

The knowledge imparted gives the young people the opportunity to relativize the values ​​of their socio-economic environment. In addition, the socialization of young people nowadays mostly takes place in peer groups , which leads to an idea of ​​values ​​in the direction of independence and self-development. Mostly children from the lower social classes deliberately set themselves apart from the values ​​of their parents as the level of education increases. The modern school system demands independence from every student. Linked to this is the requirement for the ability to reflect , which is a necessity for survival in everyday educational life. This compulsion for self-development represents an important factor in the value orientation. The modern education system offers the students the possibility of self-expression, which has not yet existed in this form.

Consequences of changing values

Self-development corresponds to the requirements of modern societies.

The loss of the large value-giving institutions is offset or entirely compensated for by the formation of smaller, autonomous subsystems. On the part of the subsystems, creativity, flexibility and curiosity are in particular demand, which is analogous to individualistic self-development. Self-development is not an emotionally stressed and lustfully experienced drive satisfaction , but the compulsion of the individual to promote his qualities and bring them into social life.

From an empirical point of view, there can be no question of a loss of values ​​such as a love of order, diligence and the fulfillment of duty. Rather, these are handled appropriately and therefore less obvious. The growing tolerance towards various minorities means that self-development does not have to mean egoism and irresponsibility. Self-development does not have to result in anonymization, as it can create completely new social networks. The elimination of “universal” values ​​is replaced by new values ​​that unite all subsystems, such as instrumental intelligence, flexibility, adaptability and adaptability, or the highly developed ability to endure and productively process failures or failures.

The 1990s and 2000s show a resurgence of the German inventory of values ​​among young people (so-called secondary virtues). The Shell youth studies prove this on the basis of the values ​​“respect law and order”, “strive for safety” and, above all, “be hardworking and ambitious”. Since self-development is still very important to young people, especially in its hedonistic form, one must assume a basic disposition to synthesize values. The Shell Youth Studies also speak of a new need for order and predictability in a globalized world that has become confusing.

See also


  • Andreas Urs Sommer : Values. Why you need it when it doesn't exist. Metzler, Stuttgart 2016, ISBN 978-3-476-02649-1 .
  • Anke Wiedekind: Changing values ​​in the parish office: an empirical study of the professionalism in the parish office (= Network Church , Volume 6). EB-Verlag, Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-86893-189-1 (Dissertation University of Marburg 2015, 266 pages).
  • Thomas Gensicke: Value orientations, being and problem solving , in: Deutsche Shell (Hrsg.): Jugend 2010. A pragmatic generation asserts itself (= Shell youth study , part 16). Fischer Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main, 2010, pp. 187–242, ISBN 978-3-596-18857-4 .
  • Tobias Sander: The change in values ​​in the 1960s and 1970s and social inequality. New sources on contradicting interpretations (= Comparative , Volume 17), Leipziger Universitätsverlag, Leipzig 2007, pp. 101–118, ISBN 3-86583-197-4 .
  • Hans Joas (Ed.): Does value education need religion? Wallstein, Göttingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-8353-0190-0 .
  • Elmar Thurner: Why do our marriages no longer last? Rhätikonverlag, Bludenz 2007, ISBN 978-3-901607-29-5 .
  • Alexander Mitscherlich , Margarete Mitscherlich : The inability to grieve - basics of collective behavior , Piper, Munich 1967; 2007, ISBN 3-492-20168-7 .
  • Thomas Gensicke: Zeitgeist and Wertorientierungen , in: Deutsche Shell (Hrsg.), Jugend 2006. The pragmatic generation under pressure (= Shell youth study , part 15), Fischer Taschenbuchverlag, Frankfurt am Main 2006, pp. 169–202, ISBN 978 -3-596-15849-2 .
  • J. Rössel: Data in search of a theory. Ronald Inglehart's analyzes of the global change in values. In: S. Möbius, D. Quadflieg (Ed.): Culture. Present theories . VS, Wiesbaden 2006.
  • Herbert Bruch, Richard Wanka: Changing values ​​in school and the world of work , Logophon, Mainz 2006, ISBN 3-936172-04-8 .
  • Helmut Klages , Thomas Gensicke: Value synthesis - functional or dysfunctional. In: Cologne journal for sociology and social psychology. Volume 58 (2), pp. 332–351.
  • Andreas Rödder : From materialism to post-materialism? Ronald Inglehart's diagnoses of the change in values, their limits and their perspectives , in: Zeithistorische Forschungen / Studies in Contemporary History 3, 2006, pp. 480–485.
  • Ronald Inglehart, Christian Welzel : Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY
  • Helmut Klages, Thomas Gensicke: Changing values ​​and big five dimensions. In: Siegfried Schumann (Ed.): Personality. A forgotten quantity of empirical social research. VS, Wiesbaden, 2006, pp. 279-200.
  • Kai-Christian Koch: Peer relationships in elementary school age: a sociometric time change study in a 25-year comparison 2005, DNB 976560836 (Dissertation Bielefeld University 2005, 253 pages PDF; 5.6 MB, free of charge, 253 pages).
  • Thomas Gensicke: Individuality and security in a new synthesis? Value orientations and social activity , in: Deutsche Shell (Ed.), Jugend 2002, Between pragmatic idealism and robust materialism (= Shell youth study, part 15), Fischer-Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main, pp. 139–211, ISBN 978- 3-596-15849-2 .
  • Special issue of changing values, among others with Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, Helmut Klages, van Deth: " From Politics and Contemporary History ", supplement to the weekly magazine " Das Parlament ", B29, 2001, ( ).
  • Helmut Klages: Values ​​and Value Change , in: Bernhard Schäfers , Wolfgang Zapf (Hrsg.): Concise dictionary for German society. 2nd edition, Leske + Budrich, Opladen, pp. 726-738.
  • G. Oesterdiekhoff: Social structures, social change and changing values. Ronald Inglehart's theoretical model in the discussion of its foundations. In: G. Oesterdickhoff, N. Jegelka (Ed.): Values ​​and changing values ​​in western societies. Leske + Budrich, Opladen, pp. 41-54.
  • Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann , Thomas Petersen: A turning point - the change in values ​​30 years later. In: From Politics and Contemporary History. 29/2001: ( ).
  • Ronald Inglehart, W. E. Baker: Modernization, cultural change, and the persistence of traditional values. In: American Sociological Review. 65, pp. 19-51.
  • Christian Duncker: Loss of Values? Change of values ​​between opinions and facts. Deutscher Universitäts-Verlag, Wiesbaden ISBN 3-8244-4427-5 .
  • Ronald Inglehart: Modernization and Post-Modernization. Campus, Frankfurt am Main. Chapters 1, 2, 3, 11 and Appendix.
  • Christian Duncker: Dimensions of the change in values ​​in Germany. An analysis based on selected time series. Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 1998, ISBN 3-631-32561-4 .
  • Hans Joas : The Origin of Values. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1997, ISBN 3-518-29016-9 .
  • B. Kadishi-Fässler: Social Change in Values . The theories of Inglehart and Klages in comparison. In: Swiss Journal for Sociology. No. 19, pp. 339-363.
  • Erich Fromm : To have or to be - the spiritual foundations of a new society. DVA, Stuttgart 1976, ISBN 3-421-01734-4 .
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Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ W. Heistermann: The problem of the norm. In: Journal for Philosophical Research. 1966, p. 200 f.
  2. Rupert Lay: The New Righteousness. Values ​​for our future. Posé, Ulf [co-author], Frankfurt am Main 2006, (Campus-Verl.) ISBN 3-593-37924-4 , pp. 7 and 49 ff.
  3. Haseloff, 1959, 171 ff.
  4. Mitscherlich, 1967, pp. 87 ff., 100 ff. And 262–265.
  5. Fromm, 1976, pp. 111-115, 197, 156.
  6. Ronald Inglehart: The Silent Revolution: Changing Values ​​and Political Styles Among Western Publics . Princeton, New Jersey 1977, ISBN 0-691-61379-6 .
  7. Angelika Scheuer, Federal Agency for Civic Education: Materialistic and post-materialistic values. 2016, accessed August 13, 2017 .
  8. ^ Paul Abramson, Ronald Inglehart: Value Change in Global Perspective . University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Mich. 1995, ISBN 0-472-06591-2 , pp. 1 .
  9. a b WVS Database. 2015, accessed on August 13, 2017 .
  10. Ronald Inglehart: Modernization and Post-Modernization: Cultural, Economic and Political Change in 43 Societies . Campus-Verl, Frankfurt / Main [u. a.] 1997, ISBN 978-3-593-35750-8 , pp. 52 ff .
  11. ^ A b Ronald Inglehart: Modernization and Post-modernization: Cultural, Economic and Political Change in 43 Societies . Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt / Main [u. a.] 1997, ISBN 3-593-35750-X , pp. 53 .
  12. Ronald Inglehart: Modernization and Post-Modernization: Cultural, Economic and Political Change in 43 Societies . Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt / Main [u. a.] 1997, ISBN 3-593-35750-X , pp. 22, 54 .
  13. ^ Paul Abramson, Ronald Inglehart: Value Change in Global Perspective . University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Mich. 1995, ISBN 0-472-06591-2 , pp. 38 .
  14. ^ Paul Abramson, Ronald Inglehart: Value Change in Global Perspective . University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Mich. 1995, ISBN 0-472-06591-2 , pp. 59 .
  15. ^ Paul Abramson, Ronald Inglehart: Value Change in Global Perspective . University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Mich. 1995, ISBN 0-472-06591-2 , pp. 72 .
  16. ^ Christian Welzel, Ronald Inglehart: Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy. The Human Development Sequence . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK 2005, ISBN 0-521-84695-1 , pp. 114 .
  17. ^ Christian Welzel, Ronald Inglehart: Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK 2005, ISBN 0-521-84695-1 , pp. 46 .
  18. ^ Paul Abramson, Ronald Inglehart: Value Change in Global Perspective . University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Mich. 1995, ISBN 0-472-06591-2 , pp. 96 .
  19. ^ Christian Welzel, Ronald Inglehart: Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy. The Human Development Sequence . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK 2005, ISBN 0-521-84695-1 , pp. 47, 76 .
  20. ^ Christian Welzel, Ronald Inglehart: Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK 2005, ISBN 0-521-84695-1 , pp. 3, 208, 209 .
  21. ^ Paul Abramson, Ronald Inglehart: Value Change in Global Perspective . University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Mich. 1995, ISBN 0-472-06591-2 , pp. 31 .
  22. Joachim Ritter, Günther Bien, Karlfried founder, Gottfried Gabriel, Margarita Kranz: Historical dictionary of philosophy . tape 12 . Schwabe, Basel 2005, ISBN 3-7965-0115-X , p. 610 .