2006 - Volume 47 > Numéro 4

ISSN 0035-2969

Tradition-modernity : a persisting split in European societies
Olivier GALLAND Yannick LEMEL

p. 687-724


The modernization theories developed in the 1950s and 60s put forward the idea that societies were converging toward modern values and gradually abandoning their traditional values. Using data from the Values surveys, the article reexamines the convergence idea in the context of European societies. A set of attitude scales was constructed, then analyzed using multivariate techniques. Analysis yielded two main results. First, regardless of date or country examined, Europeans’ values seem still to be structured around a traditionalism axis. This result obviously runs counter to convergence-toward-modernity theses, theses which have already been strongly criticized. It is also a reason to reflect on the counterpart of traditionalism – need it be called « modernity » ? – and the ties between economic and moral attitudes. Second, religiosity is seen to be closely linked to this way of structuring values, but the relevant opposition is between Europeans affiliated with a religion whatever it may and persons with no religion, rather than (as is often imagined) between Catholics and Protestants. All in all, the tension between tradition and modernity persists at the core of European societies’ value system.



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