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Postmaterialism, Cognitive Mobilization and Public Support for European Integration


This article reviews the trends in public support for European integration in West Germany, France, Italy and Great Britain. The first conclusion is that the picture one gets depends heavily on the indicator one uses to measure support. This finding is probably a consequence of the fact that many people are only dimly aware of the issue. Furthermore, it appears that there are striking cross-national differences in support and in the development of support through time. To explain these differences, as well as the formation of individual attitudes towards integration, Inglehart's theory of the Silent Revolution is used. The theory and its central concepts – postmaterialism and cognitive mobilization – are put on trial at three levels of aggregation. The results are poor. Postmaterialism appears to be unrelated to attitudes towards European integration, while the concept of cognitive mobilization makes sense only at the individual level. The conclusion is therefore that Inglehart's theory is of almost no use in explaining attitudes towards integration and cross-national differences in support.

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Ronald Inglehart and J. R. Rabier , ‘Economic Uncertainty and European Solidarity: Public Opinion Trends’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 440 (1978), 6697

Ronald Inglehart , ‘The Evolution of Public Attitudes Toward European Integration: 1970–1986’, Journal of European Integration, 10 (1987), 135–55, p. 152

W. M. Lafferty , ‘Basic Needs and Political Values: Some Perspectives from Norway on Europe's “Silent Revolution”’, Acta Sociologica, 19 (1976), 117–36, p. 122.

Ronald Inglehart , ‘New Perspectives on Value Change: Response to Lafferty and Knutsen, Savage, and Böltken and Jagodzinski’, Comparative Political Studies, 17 (1985), 485532

P. E. Converse and G. B. Markus , ‘Plus ça change…: The New CPS Election Study Panel’, American Political Science Review, 73 (1979), 3249

K. W. Deutsch , ‘Integration and Arms Control in the European Political Environment: A Summary Report’, American Political Science Review, 60 (1966), 354–65

David H. Handley , ‘Public Opinion and European Integration: The Crisis of the 1970s’, European Journal of Political Research, 9 (1981), 335–64

Ronald Inglehart , ‘Aggregate Stability and Individual-Level Flux in Mass Belief Systems: The Level of Analysis Paradox’, American Political Science Review, 79 (1985), 97116.

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British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
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