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The Silent Revolution's Twin Progeny: Populist-Authoritarians and Populist-Progressives

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University of Warwick

Public Lecture by Pippa Norris on The Silent Revolution's Twin Progeny: Populist-Authoritarians and Populist-Progressives

When: 1.00-2.30pm Wednesday 19th July 2017

Where: Location Tbc, University of Warwick

Hosted by: Department of Politics, University of Warwick

Abstract: The argument presented in this study starts from the ‘silent revolution’ theory of value change, which holds that the unprecedentedly high levels of existential security experienced by Western societies during the postwar decades brought an intergenerational shift toward post-materialist values. A substantial body of survey-based research has documented the cultural transformation thatoccurred during the last half century in Western societies, exemplified by growing public support for Post-Materialist and Self-expression values and the decline of traditional values-- and the organizational expression of these values in the late-twentieth century through the rise of new cultural issues, social movements, and political parties.[i]  Massive time-series evidence demonstrates growing tolerance among the younger cohorts and the college educated in Western societies for progressive cultural values.

The cultural revolution has been linked with the rise of Green parties, as well as with progressive social movements and transnational activist organizations reflecting values such as environmental protection, LGBT rights, racial and gender equality, and support for humanitarian development assistance and human rights around the world. As post-materialists gradually became more numerous in the population, they brought new issues into politics, leading to a declining emphasis on issues of economic redistribution, weakened social class voting, and growing party polarization based on cultural issues and social identities.

The key question which arises, however, concerns those who are left behind by cultural trends - including the older generation and less educated sectors of the population - and whether a reaction against value change has spurred populist movements, parties and leaders. 

This study, drawn from a larger book, develops the thesis and then examines the survey evidence linking cultural attitudes to voting for populist parties and leaders in Europe and the U.S.

[i] Ronald Inglehart. 1990. Cultural Shift in Advanced Industrial Society. Princeton: Princeton University; Ronald Inglehart. 1997. Modernization and Postmodernization: Cultural, Economic and Political Change in 43 Societies. Princeton: Princeton University Press; Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris, 2004. Rising Tide: Gender Equality in Global Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel, 2005. Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence. New York: Cambridge University Press;  Christian Welzel. 2013. Freedom Rising: Human Empowerment and the Quest for Emancipation. New York: Cambridge University Press.