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The changes of value-system during the transition period in Post- communist Europe

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In spite of the stability of value-systems over time, the great economic and sociopolitical changes could alter the existing value orientation of a given society. Thus, in the transition period in Post-communist European countries the social, economic and political changes are coupled with respective shifting in the value-system. In the present study, the modifications in value orientation of the population of Slovenia during the transition period (1988-1995) have been investigated. In this period, some significant alterations in value orientations occurred although the overall ranking position of main categories of values had not been changed radically. The results showed an increment in the relative importance of dionysian values (values of hedonism, materialism, individualism, social power and reputation) in comparison to apollonian values (values of affiliation, morality, cultural and personal fulfillment). Among more specific categories the significance of values concerning social status, sensualism, patriotism, security, and social affiliation has raised especially. The changes in the value-systems being observed in Slovenia and elsewhere in Post-communist Europe can be generalized as a common trend toward the societal proliferation of individualistic, hedonistic (materialistic) and nationalistic attitudes in the European societies being under transition. The changes in value orientation are also consonant with the economical, political and other social changes. Nevertheless, the changes in the value-system - although significant - are not very dramatic and their appeasement in the near future could reasonably be expected, especially in the most developed Post-communist countries.
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The impact of transitional changes on value systems in post-communist
Europe
Janek Musek, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
General model of value system
Definitions
In this presentation I shall discuss the changes in value orientations being
observed in post-communist countries during the transition period; I wish also to
promote some hypotheses related to the relationship between the value-systems and
the reform processes being carried out in this part of Europe. I will put into
consideration some results and conclusions of our empirical studies being
accomplished in Slovenia, but I will mainly focus on the results which are in
congruence with the trends in post-communist Europe elsewhere. Additionally, I must
say, that will confine myself on more principal conclusions or better assumptions
without going into the details.
Numerous definitions of values exist in the tradition of axiology (the discipline
exploring human values). In the philosophical as well as in the psychological or
sociological axiology a number of definitions and conceptions of values could be found
(Musek, 1982; Musek, 1993). There are also some differences and controversies
concerning the conceptual delineation between values and other more or less related
terms like ideals, preferences, interests, beliefs, attitudes and others. Nevertheless, as
widely shared consensual denotations of values, two broadly accepted definitions could
be mentioned here. Clyde Kluckhohn (1951; Musek, 1993) defines values as concepts
of the desirable, which influence how people decide for actions and how they evaluate
events. And in terms of English and English (1972; Musek, 1993) "the values are
abstract, often implicit conceptions, which define to the individual the goals or means
for attaining the goals he considers as desirable". Very often cited characteristics of
values are the evaluative note, abstractness, cultural sharing and obligatory personal
involvement.
The psychological view: values as general motives (goals)
Some years ago I proposed somewhat different (but not contrasting) model of
values (Musek, 1982). According to this proposition the values could be understood as
motives or motivational goals on the very high level of generality. They could be
conceived as general and relatively consistent ideations about goals and events, which
we highly estimate, which refer to broad classes of subordinated objects, actions and
relations, and which direct our interests, attitudes and our behavior. The values then
can be viewed as the most general motivational goals occupying the top of hierarchy of
such goals (see Figure 1).
Some other authors also share the opinion that the values could be defined as
motivational goals. Probably the most elaborated definition of this kind originated from
Schwartz and Bilsky (1987). The authors proposed the definition, that the values are
[1] conceptions or beliefs about [2] desirable terminal states or behaviors, which [3]
transcend specific situations, [4] direct and control the choice or the appraisal of acts
and events and [5] are ordered by their's relative importance.
Figure 1. The hierarchy of (motivational) goals. Values occupy the top level of the
hierarchy of goals.
The hierarchical structure of values
The values can be classified into a number of categories occupying different
levels in the hierarchical structure of human goals. Numerous categories of values at
different levels of hierarchy have been identified in the theoretical and empirical
investigations. In our own research, a clear hierarchy of the categories of values
emerged as a result of performed factor-, cluster- and other multivariate analyses
(Musek, 1993; Musek, 1994; Musek, 1995).
As we can see from the Figure 2, the results of factor and other multivariate
analyses confirmed the hierarchical structure of the values. According to this structure,
the values can be classified at different levels of generality, from the most general at the
top to the most specific in the bottom. At the most general level of the entire structural
hierarchy, there are only two very large categories (macrocategories) of values
(Dionysian and Apollonian macrocategory). On the next level, each of these two
categories splits into two further subcategories, which could be called the value types.
Dionysian values could be subdivided into two groups, hedonistic values and potency
values. The first group (hedonistic values) contains the values, connected with sensual
and material pleasures, while the second group (potency values) includes the values,
which have to do with achievement, success and reputation, but also with patriotism.
At the next level, each of the value types could be further divided into the middle-range
categories of values. Thus, the hedonistic type disjoin into sensual and health category,
the potency type into the status and patriotism category, the moral type into the
traditional, democratic (or societal) and social values and the fulfilment type into the
cognitive, cultural, self-actualising and spiritual values. Finally, at the most specific
level of hierarchy, we can find different single values, which can be derived from the
middle-range categories of values.
Figure 2. The four-level hierarchy of values. It includes the level of
macrodimensions, the level of value types, the level of middle-range value categories
and the level of specific values.
Interestingly enough, the content of four value types resemble an ancient
oriental classification of values. According to this classification, the values, emerging
most early in the life of human being, have to do with life pleasures and satisfaction of
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sensual and physical needs. At the next stage, the values connected with success,
achievement and reputation take the place. In the next phase, the individual becomes
more and more occupied with the values, regulating his duties and responsibilities. And
finally, he achieves the level of progressive orientation toward the values of inner life,
of spiritual life and self-transcendence. Indeed, these four categories of values very
well correspond to our four types of values: the hedonistic values, the potency values,
the moral values and the fulfilment values.
Changes in value-systems during transition processes in (post-communist) Europe
Transition processes in former socialist societies in Europe are still the matter
of intensive conceptual debate in many fields and disciplines. Beside some common
factors influencing the transitional changes we can also find obvious differences and
dissimilarities between ex-socialist countries in political, economic and psychosocial
domain.
The changes in psychological and psychosocial domain have been detected in
post-comunist countries even before the very beginning of political and economic
transition. They included the disintegration of socialist ideology and value-system
(vastly supported by previous political regime), accompanied with the invigoration of
political autonomism and the simultaneous increase of pro-individual, entrepreneurial,
pro-democratic, pro-religious and pro-nationalist orientation. There is a common
observation that the intensivity of these changes correlated with the cultural and
historical factors including the closeness to the western or central-European tradition
(with the historical passages through Reformation, Anti-Reformation and
Enlightenment phases), the commitment to catholic rather than orthodox religion, the
adherence to the individualistic rather than collectivistic culture etc. For instance,
Slovenia, the most western of all these countries, differs from the others in many
respects on the ground of its specific pre-transition conditions. Slovenia has been more
pro-western in orientation, strongly adherent to the central European cultural tradition
and had more improved economy. Slovenia shows therefore comparatively more
indications of stable and accelerated economic development in transition period and
has gained some strategic goals of postsocialist development more rapidly (Orazem
and Vodopivec, 1994; Pleskovic and Sachs, 1994; Vodopivec and Hribar-Milic, 1993).
Despite the fact, that the value systems are by definition rather stable and
resistant to change, we may expect that they cannot remain unchanged in confrontation
with a large societal transition. It seems even reasonable to believe that the changes in
value orientations could precede the political and even economic transformation
(McClelland, 1961; Weber, 1904). The existing empirical evidence supports this
hypothesis at least in the case of Slovenia. In public opinion survey data, a definite shift
toward more pro-democratic and pro-religious attitudes has been established in the
middle of eighties (Toš, 1994). In 1992 and 1993 the sociopolitical attitudes of
younger and older people strongly departed from attitudes, measured in the period of
1969 to 1985 (Pečjak, 1994; Ule, Miheljak & Mencin, 1994). The entrepreneurial
orientation in Slovene youth was in the same years very high, even slightly above the
norms for USA samples (Lapajne, 1994).
The major change in value orientation observed in Slovenia, but similar trends
have been observed in other former socialist countries (especially in Central Europe),
during the period from 1988 to 1994 is the significant increase of the rated importance
of dionysian values (see Figure 3a). Dionysian values increased constantly while the
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apollonian values remained approximately at the same level (the difference between
samples is unsignificant). Dionysian values, as we know, could be decomposed into
two value types, the hedonistic type including sensual and health (security) values, and
the potency type, including the values of social power (achievement and reputation)
and patriotism. Similarly, the apollonian values could be divided into the moral value
type containing societal, social and traditional ethical values, and the fulfilment type
embracing cultural, cognitive, self-growth and spiritual values. We can see that the
raise of dionyisian values is due to the increments in both hedonistic and potency value
types (see Figure 3b). The moral value type remained more or less stagnant during the
period of measurement, while the fulfilment values showed a significant fall-down in
the 1991 and then raised again in the next years.
The value types could be further divided into different middle-range categories
of values. As shown in Figure 3c, the most significant changes have been recorded for
patriotic, status and sensual values which consistently increased. Social and security
values also increased, but only in the period after 1991. The other categories remain
mostly at the same level (democratic, cognitive and traditional values) or even
decreased in the period from 1988 to 1991 (cultural and religious values).
Figure 3. The observed shifts in the ratings of the importance of values in the period
1988 to 1994 in Slovenia: (a) the macrocategories (Dionysian and Apollonian
values), (b) the value types and (c) middle-range categories.
The observed changes and shifts in value orientation are congruent with
political, social and economic changes in pre-transition and transition period in
Slovenia. The changes in value orientation indicate the rise of individualism,
competitiveness and nationalism, all embodied in dionysian values, in hedonistic and
potency value types and particularly in status, sensual, security and patriotic values.
This picture can easily be associated with the dominant changes on the political and
economic scene: the transformation of totalitarian system to the pluralistic democracy
and the progression from the socialist to the market economy. The rise of patriotism
and nationalism in transition period is very understandable for the situation of Slovenia,
which struggle for independence culminated successfully in 1991. The empirical
evidence also suggests that some changes occured even before. The increasing
valuation of national autonomy, religiousness, political pluralism and democracy has
been observed already in early eighties (Toš, 1994). According values - the patriotic,
religious and democratic ones - achieved high levels already before transition. That
also explains why some of these values display no more rising effect in recent years.
Values and oncoming society
In psychosocial analyses, the rise of hedonistic and potency values have not
been met always with sympathy. Certainly, it could easily be connected with negative
events accompanying the development in transition countries - from escalated criminal
to increasing rate of suicide. To some extent, it is also reasonable to speak of the crisis
of values especially in relation to the colapse of previous doctrinary established value
system. The old value system lost the power and seemingly the society in transition fell
into the vacuum state regarding the values. But, of course, there is not such thing like a
society without values. Ideological values of communism never exclusively occupied
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the minds of the people, they allways have to struggle with traditional values and with
imported values from the democratic societies.
Even more important, the changes in value orientation - although significant -
are not very dramatic. The overall hierarchy of values has been changed only partially.
The gap between apollonian and dionysian values, very large in 1988, is abated indeed
in 1991, but remained undiminished in recent years. Social and security values saved
their supremacy in hierarchy, while status and patriotic values, although elavated in
transition period, maintained rather low position. Even the observed trends in value
change show a tendency to the stabilization, and, moreover, the most recent results of
my colleagues demonstrated even some opposite trends in the period form 1993 to
1995, notably the diminution in the importance of materialistic and potency values
(Ule Nastran, Miheljak & Rener, 1996; Ule Nastran, Rener, Miheljak & Mencin, 1996,
unpubl. research report; see also Figure 4).
Figure 4. The ratings of some important values in 1993 and 1995: Percent of the
ratings very desirable and very important in high school generations in Slovenia (Ule
et al, 1996).
Somewhat surprising, the trends in value orientations being reported for post-
communist countries are rather at variance with the trends observed in western Europe
and other developed societies. Coleman and Husen (1985) found in young population
already in eighties a definite shift from materialistic and carreer-oriented values toward
postmaterialistic and personal values. The trends in post-communist countries in early
transition period go at least partially in opposite direction and the increase of
dionysian values demonstrates these trends quite well. Nevertheless, this change could
also be explained as a consequence of a radical break with the values being compliant
with collectivistic and egalitarian norms of communism. On the other hand, we can
observe in more developed post-communist societies the same characteristics of the
postmodern mixed value orientation as found by Coleman and Husen in the west. This
mixed orientation consists in a combination of traditional achievement motivation with
orientation toward antiautoritarianism, self-actualisation and adoption of information
technology and it characterises a great and increasing number of young people
throghout the developed world.
The relationship between transitional processes and values is bidirectional:
transitional changes influence the value-systems, and vice-versa, the changed value-
systems could affect the further development of the life in the respective countries. A
question could be raised therefore, what could be the consequences of the shifts in the
value orientations being observed in newly developping democracies in the Central and
Eastern Europe. It seems probable that such consequences depend on a broad scale of
political, economic and social factors which can moderate or buffer the final outcomes.
The actual situations in the countries with remarkable pre-communist economic
development and democratic tradition (Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary and
Poland) is showing rather stabilising tendencies concerning further societal
development. In other countries, however, the general situation is not so stable and
promising and the symptoms of growing social anomia are increasing. Slovenia is
deeply rooted in Middle-European area for historical, cultural and geographic reasons.
It differs from the majority of other post-communist societies by close connectedness
with more individualistic cultures (Bond, 1988; Hofstede, 1980; Hui & Triandis, 1986;
5
Schwartz, 1990). For this reason, Slovenia is maybe better equipped for transition
tasks both in economic and psychological respect. Thus, the observed modifications in
value orientation reflect probably not only the realm of transitory processes, but also
the specific situation of Slovenia with its historical, cultural and geographical
inclinations.
The conclusion could be drawn therefore, at least from the results of our
investigations, that the observed changes in the value orientations in more developed
post-communist countries are not very dramatic and, even more, they show the trends
of stabilisation in very recent times. To say in other words, we can hardly expect that
the observed changes in value-system could have a serious detrimental effect on further
societal development of respective societies. More probably, the newly estasblished
value system would contribute to the stable functioning of these societies in the future.
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Abstract
The shifts in value orientation are often coupled with extensive changes in
social, political and economic system. The value orientation of Slovene population has
undergone significant alterations during the transition period (1988 - 1994). The results
of empirical research showed the shifts in value system on the level of single values as
well on the levels of more general value categories. The importance of dionysian
category (embracing hedonistic and potency values) increased in the period from 1988
to 1994. Among more specific categories the significance of values concerning social
status, sensualism, patriotism, security, and social affiliation has raised especially. The
results clearly confirm the hypothesis that some major changes in value orientation
occurred recently in our society. They can be summarized as a general trend toward
more pronounced individualism, hedonism and nationalism. The changes in value
orientation are consonant with the economical, political and other social changes.
Nevertheless, the changes in value system - although significant - are not very dramatic
and they could even be appeased soon in the future. The observed modifications in
value orientation reflect probably not only the realm of transitory processes, but also
the specific situation of Slovenia with its historical, cultural and geographical
inclinations.
8
THE VALUES
ARE
[1] conceptions or beliefs about
[2] desirable terminal states or behaviors, which
[3] transcend specific situations,
[4] direct and control the choice or the appraisal of acts and
events and
[5] are ordered by their's relative importance
Figure 3. The definition of values (Schwartz & Bilsky, 1987).
9
VALUES
SPECIFIC GOALS
10
MACRODIMENSIONS
OF VALUES
VALUE TYPES
MIDDLE RANGE CATEGORIES OF VALUES
SPECIFIC VALUES
1
2
3
4
11
a
88/89 91/92 93/95
Dionysian
Apollonian
0
25
50
75
100
88/89 91/92 93/95
Dionysian
Apollonian
Dionysian
Apollonian
b
Hedonistic Potency Moral Fulfilment
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
Hedonistic Potency Moral Fulfilment
88/89
91/92
93/95
c
0 20 40 60 80 100
sensual
security
status
patriotism
democratic
social
traditional
cultural
cognitive
actualysing
religious
93/95
91/92
88/89
12
DESIRABILITY
0 20 40 60 80 100
good material position
respected social position
leading position
enjoyment
excel in sports
personal autonomy
harmony with partner
60
37
45,9
51,1
28,7
75
67,1
49,7
29,9
46,9
21,5
12,2
65
83,6
1993 1995
D E S I R A B I L I T Y
IMPORTANCE
0 20 40 60 80 100
freedom
protection of the nature
family life
live in peace
creativity
security of my nation
money
74,2
59,4
84,4
47,6
33,3
61,3
58,4
90
79
75,3
70,8
60
59,5
42,6
1993 1995
13
14
15
Biography
Janek Musek
Born 1945, graduated 1968, PhD in Psychology 1975. Since 1971 occupied assistant
and teaching positions at the University of Ljubljana (Department of Psychology,
Faculty of Arts and Sciences): assistant professor for General Psychology from 1977,
associate professor from 1981, full professor (ordinarius) from 1988. Appointments:
Head of the Department of Psychology (1981-1983), Vice Dean of the Faculty of Arts
and Sciences (1984-1986), Vice Rector of the University of Ljubljana (1996-1997).
Main research domains in personality and cognitive psychology, recent research areas
including personality factors of symbolism, decision making, values, self-concept,
consciousness and spiritual development. Published more than 20 scientific books and
textbooks and about 200 scientific articles.
16
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