Disputas: Plamen Akaliyski
Master of Science in Sociology Plamen Akaliyski will be defending his dissertation for the degree of Ph.D. (philosophiae doctor) at the Department of Sociology and Human Geography.
Cultural Diversity and Change in Post-Cold War Europe
How do we explain the cultural differences between European societies? Are any of these differences increasing or diminishing in the wake of the Cold War and, if so, why? In this dissertation, I attempt to answer these difficult questions that are especially crucial to the future of Europe. More than 270,000 respondents in 47 European countries were surveyed at several points in time since 1990 as part of the largest cross-cultural projects on values and attitudes (World Values Survey and European Values Study) in order to provide representative information on their countries’ cultures.
The results revealed that enormous cultural gaps exist in Europe, with the Nordic countries exhibiting the most modern—i.e., liberal, tolerant, egalitarian, and individualistic—set of cultural values, followed by the Western European and Central European countries, while most of the Southeastern European and former-Soviet countries share conservative social values, especially in the domains of sexual freedom and gender equality. The variation between countries on a wide variety of cultural values and attitudes can be explained predominantly by the following factors: the level of socio-economic modernization, former Cold War alliances, historically influential religious traditions, linguistic similarities and differences, geographic location, climate, past empire membership, and the increasingly important role of the European Union.
These differences, however, are not static, and the largest cultural transformations in post-Cold War Europe were associated with the geopolitical restructuring of the continent after the collapse of the communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe. Most countries that joined the European Union after 1995 have successfully converged with the Western European cultural model. But the opposite development has occurred in the countries with no prospects of joining the European Union, especially the Eurasian Economic Union members. In my last article, I explain the cultural divergence between Eastern and Western Europe by contrasting supranational identities that political actors have increasingly accentuated to strengthen their nations’ appraisal or dismissal of liberal values, thus making these values an increasingly distinct marker of cultural Westernness.
Scientific abstract (pdf)