Americans' attitudes toward the environment and economic development: A comparison of traditional liberal/conservative ideology and the materialist/post-materialist value priorities perspective

Barbara Lenore Carvalho, Fordham University

Abstract

This thesis involves an examination of contemporary attitudes towards the community issues of economic development and the environment. The central question which is addressed in this analysis is the degree to which society has undergone a transition from a class based ideological polarization to a new value based political division requiring new analytic approaches to aid our understanding of these two issue areas and others. Attention focuses on whether or not traditional liberal/conservative ideology is applicable to understanding these two important contemporary political issues and how this approach compares with the usefulness of an alternative perspective advanced by Ronald Inglehart in The Silent Revolution: Changing Values and Political Styles Among Western Publics, the materialist/post-materialist value priorities model.^ The research design for this study involves a national telephone survey of 1,032 adults. Americans' attitudes toward economic development, the environment, and the trade-off which may exist between these two concerns within a community is examined in terms of the salience of each issue, the position an individual has, and whether there is any variation in an individual's viewpoint depending upon the specific aspect of each issue under consideration.^ This research demonstrates that neither traditional liberal/conservative ideology nor Inglehart's materialist/post-materialist value priorities perspective provides an overarching framework which explains the public's attitudes toward economic development, environmental concerns, or the trade-off that may exist when individuals must choose between these two important issues. The two models are independent of one another and represent different methods to understanding how an individual views the political system. However, these two theoretical perspectives are limited in providing insight into the issues discussed in this analysis for the public as a whole, as well as for specific segments of the population. In addition, the utility of these two theoretical models to enhance our understanding of these issues is dependent upon the measure which is used to define each theoretical approach and the specific issue which is examined. ^

Subject Area

Political science

Recommended Citation

Carvalho, Barbara Lenore, "Americans' attitudes toward the environment and economic development: A comparison of traditional liberal/conservative ideology and the materialist/post-materialist value priorities perspective" (1992). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9223807.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9223807

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