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A Theory of Cultural Value Orientations: Explication and Applications

In: Comparative Sociology
Author: Shalom Schwartz
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Abstract

This article presents a theory of seven cultural value orientations that form three cultural value dimensions. This theory permits more finely tuned characterization of cultures than other theories. It is distinctive in deriving the cultural orientations from a priori theorizing. It also specifies a coherent, integrated system of relations among the orientations, postulating that they are interdependent rather than orthogonal. Analyses of data from 73 countries, using two different instruments, validate the 7 cultural orientations and the structure of interrelations among them. Conceptual and empirical comparisons of these orientations with Inglehart's two dimensions clarify similarities and differences. Using the cultural orientations, I generate a worldwide empirical mapping of 76 national cultures that identifies 7 transnational cultural groupings: West European, English-speaking, Latin American, East European, South Asian, Confucian influenced, and African and Middle Eastern. I briefly discuss distinctive cultural characteristics of these groupings. I then examine examples of socioeconomic, political, and demographic factors that give rise to national differences on the cultural value dimensions, factors that are themselves reciprocally influenced by culture. Finally, I examine consequences of prevailing cultural value orientations for attitudes and behavior (e.g., conventional morality, opposition to immigration, political activism) and argue that culture mediates the effects of major social structural variables on them.

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