Viewpoints to the World

Prototypes of Worldview and their Relation to Motivational Values in Different Social Movements

Project is funded by the Academy of Finland, 2011- 2015

Western societies are today characterised by a multitude of social movements, such as the human rights, global democracy, gender equality, and the environmental movement, as well as a plethora of new religious movements and new interpretations of traditional religions, both liberal and conservative. In short, this means that we face today a transformation of the kind of socialisation that formerly constituted a foundation for construction of values and we posit that the key characteristics involved are (1) increased heterogeneity and complexity of individual life-worlds, and (2) the extension of the taken-for-grantedness of democracy, equality, and individual freedom of self-expression into religious or spiritual matters. As a premise to this study we argue that these changes lead to polarisation of people’s values when on the one hand a perceived threat to a traditional value base triggers a fear response in some individuals and, on the other hand, public expression and defence of conservative values triggers an emotional reaction in other individuals when the ideal of individual freedom of self-expression is challenged.

In this context of social movements we pose the question, what does activity in the various social and religious movements tell about the values and world-views of the individuals? The purpose of this study is thus to explore the worldviews and values of the individuals that engage in social and religious movements so that inferences can be made about the characteristics of people attracted to these movements. Further, the study explores relations between the variables for the entire sample in order to formulate a theory of the influence of values on individual’s worldview that can be generalised as an explanatory model for religious change, and tested in further studies.

The instruments used in this project are (1) The Faith Q- Sort for identifying different prototypes of worldview (2) the Portrait Values Questionnaire designed to measure basic value orientations. We limit this project to three movements that are all manifestations of a perceived strain between observed and desirable reality: The ecological, the new atheist and secular humanist, and the conservative religious movements. Conservative Christians, environmental activists, atheists or secular humanists are compared on the distribution of different worldview types and the profile of value priorities.

Dr Mika Lassander
MA Janne Kontala