Modernization’s Challenge to Traditional Values: Who’s Afraid of Ronald McDonald?

The World Values Survey – a 2-decade-long examination of the values of 65 societies coordinated by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research – is the largest investigation ever conducted of attitudes, values and beliefs around the world. Economic development is associated with pervasive, and to an extent, predictable, cultural changes. Certainly it is misleading to view cultural change as “Americanization.” Industrializing societies in general are not becoming like the US. In fact, the US seems to be a deviant case: its people hold much more traditional values and beliefs than do those in any other equally prosperous society. In short, economic development will cause shifts in the values of people in developing nations, but it will not produce a uniform global culture. The future may look like McWorld, but it will not feel like one.