Ronald Inglehart is a political scientist at the University of Michigan. He is director of the World Values Survey, a global network of social scientists who have carried out representative national surveys of the publics of over 80 societies on all six inhabited continents, containing 85 percent of the world’s population. In the seventies he developed the sociological theory of post-materialism. In The Silent Revolution (1977) Inglehart discovered a major intergenerational shift in the values of the populations of advanced industrial societies. In his 1989 book Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society Inglehart uses a large body of time-series survey data from twenty-six nations gathered from 1970 through 1988 to analyze the cultural changes that are occurring as younger generations gradually replace older ones in the adult population. These changes have far-reaching political implications, and they seem to be transforming the economic growth rates of societies and the kind of economic development that is pursued. Economic, technological, and sociopolitical changes have been changing the cultures of advanced industrial societies during the past several decades.
The World Values Survey is a global research project that explores people’s values and beliefs, how they change over time and what social and political impact they have. It is carried out by a worldwide network of social scientists who, since 1981, have conducted representative national surveys in almost 100 countries. The WVS is the only source of empirical data on attitudes covering a majority of the world’s population (nearly 90%).
The WVS measures, monitors and analyzes: support for democracy, tolerance of foreigners and ethnic minorities, support for gender equality, the role of religion and changing levels of religiosity, the impact of globalization, attitudes toward the environment, work, family, politics, national identity, culture, diversity, insecurity, and subjective well-being.
The findings are valuable for policy makers seeking to build civil society and democratic institutions in developing countries. The work is also frequently used by governments around the world, scholars, students, journalists and international organizations and institutions such as the World Bank and the United Nations (UNDP and UN-Habitat). Data from the World Values Survey have for example been used to better understand the motivations behind events such as the 2010-2011 Middle East and North Africa protests, the 2005 French civil unrest, the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and the Yugoslav wars and political upheaval in the 1990s.