Tradition vs. Modernity : The Continuing Dichotomy of Values in European Society
The modernisation theories developed in the 50s and 60s suggested that societies were converging toward modern values, gradually abandoning their traditional values. This convergence idea is re-examined in the following article within the context of European countries and on the basis of processed Values surveys. A set of attitude scales was constructed and then analysed through multivariate techniques. Two main results emerge from this analysis. First, it appears that, regardless of date and country, the Europeans’ values are still structured around a traditionalism axis. This result obviously contradicts the theories of convergence towards modernity, theories that are strongly criticised. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the counterpart of traditionalism –need it be called “modernity” ?– and on the relations between economic and moral attitudes. Second, religiosity is strongly linked to this structuring of values but it mainly opposes European members of whatever religious denomination to non-members, rather than –as is often imagined– Catholics to Protestants. All in all, the tension between tradition and modernity remains at the core of the value system of European societies.