Ronald Inglehart is Chairman of World Values Survey.
Inglehart is a professor of political science at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. Professor Inglehart's ongoing research focuses on cultural change and its consequences. To explore this, he is coordinating a world-wide survey of mass values and attitudes, the World Values survey. This data base reveals astonishingly strong linkages between the values and beliefs of mass publics and the presence or absence of democratic institutions, supporting the thesis that political culture plays a crucial role in the emergence and survival of democracy.
The findings indicate that the evolution of industrial society tends to make democratic political institutions more likely, partly because the publics of these societies are becoming increasingly likely to want democratic institutions, and increasingly adept at getting them. This transformation does not come easily or automatically. Determined elites, in control of the army and police, can resist pressures for democratization. But as they mature, industrial societies develop increasingly specialized and educated labor forces, which become relatively adept at exerting political pressure. Moreover, the emergence of economically advanced welfare states leads to gradual value changes in which mass publics give an increasingly high priority of autonomy and self-expression in a sphere of life, including politics. As these things happen, it becomes increasingly difficult and costly to repress demands for political liberalization.
These cultural changes are also transforming people's motivation to work, sexual and religious norms, and a number of other central society and political orientations. In order to investigate these changes, Professor Inglehart is analyzing data from the four waves of the World Values survey (carried out in 1981, 1990, 1995 and 2000 in 78 countries containing over 80% of the world's population).