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The Measurement of Modernism

The Measurement of Modernism
A Study of Values in Brazil and Mexico

The results of an empirical investigation designed to produce instruments to measure personal values that have been central variables in the theory of modernization of societies, using Brazil and Mexico as examples.

January 1968
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228 pages | 6 x 9 | 2 figs., 34 tables |

One of the most interesting questions that can be raised about the twentieth century world concerns the degree to which industrialization created a common culture for all peoples. Reported here are the results of an empirical investigation designed to produce instruments to measure those personal values that have been central variables in the theory of modernization of societies.

The purpose of Joseph Kahl’s research is primarily methodological: to advance the description and measurement of those value orientations used by men to organize their occupational careers. It seeks to delineate and measure a set of values that represents a “modern” view of work and life.

The working laboratory was Brazil and Mexico, two countries undergoing rapid industrialization. More than six hundred men in Brazil and more than seven hundred in Mexico responded to questionnaires. In addition, over twenty-five men in each country were asked to sit beside a tape recorder and talk freely of their worldviews. The respondents were divided between inhabitants of the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City and those who lived in provincial towns of fewer than ten thousand inhabitants. The samples included manual and nonmanual employees.

The results showed that the main variable predicting whether or not a man would tend toward modernism was his social-class position. Middle-class men were much more modern in outlook than working-class men. Residence in a metropolis rather than in a small town also increased modernism, though to a lesser extent. Differences between Brazil and Mexico (and, indeed, the United States) were found to be surprisingly small, of considerably less weight than position in the social structure in predicting value orientations.

The author addresses himself primarily to sociologists and their students who are themselves studying aspects of socio-economic development. His findings, however, cannot fail to be of interest and benefit to social scientists of various disciplines and to all who are concerned with the process of development—planners at the national and local levels, demographers, and businesspeople.

  • Preface
  • Chapter I. The Modernization of Values
    • Traditional Society versus Modern Society
    • Causes and Effects
    • Values and Norms
    • Career Values
    • Three Men
    • From Ideal Types to Variables
    • The Components of Modernism
    • Empirical Syndrome of Modernism
    • Conclusions
  • Chapter II. The Operational Definition of Modernism
    • The Questionnaire
    • The Samples
    • The Scales
    • Modernism I
    • Stability of Modernism I in Subsamples
    • Rotation of Axes
    • Modernism II
    • Conclusions
  • Chapter III. Who Are the Modern Men?
    • Component Value Scales
    • Comparisons between Brazil and Mexico: Modernism III
    • Comparisons with the United States
    • Conclusions
  • Chapter IV. Modern Values, Education, and Occupation
    • From School to Job
    • How Much Is an Education Worth?
    • Why Do Boys Stay in School?
    • The Prediction of Education by Father’s Status and by Size of Town
    • Values and Education
    • Conclusions
  • Chapter V. Modern Values and Fertility Ideals
    • Fertility Ideals
    • The Role of Values
    • Family Structure in Brazil and Mexico
    • Supporting Evidence on Family Structure
    • Nonfamily Relationships
    • A Theory of Causation
    • Conclusions
  • Chapter VI. Personal Satisfaction and Political Attitudes
    • Job and Career Satisfaction
    • Life Satisfaction
    • Relations among the Three Indices of Satisfaction
    • Satisfaction, Occupation, and Location
    • Time Sequence: Satisfaction Relative to Aspiration
    • Education, Occupation, and Satisfaction
    • Income and Satisfaction
    • Measures of Radical Orientation
    • Status, Satisfaction, and Radicalism
    • Mexican Manual Workers
    • Mexican Nonmanual Workers
    • The Ambivalent Mexican
    • Conclusions
  • Chapter VII. Work Attitudes
    • The Wide Range of Views
    • Specific Job Attitudes
    • Rating by the Boss
    • Conclusions
  • Chapter VIII. Conclusions: Modernism and Development
    • The Value Scales
    • The Typical Modem Man
    • Where Is the Modern Man?
    • Validity of the Tools
    • Values and Education
    • Values and Family Size
    • Satisfaction and Politics
    • Work Attitudes
    • Values: Means or Ends?
    • Values and Economic Development
  • Appendix A. Socio-Economic Status
    • Social Stratification
    • The Respondents’ Status Indices
    • Index of SES
    • Measures of Parental Status
    • Social-Class Identification
    • Deviant Cases
    • Time Sequence
    • Multivariate Analysis of Identification
    • Identification as an Intervening Variable
    • Clerks versus Skilled Workers
    • Conclusions
  • Appendix B. Fathers and Sons: Intergenerational Mobility
    • Rates of Mobility: Correlation Coefficients
    • Father’s SES, Son’s Education, Son’s SES
    • Problems of Matrix Analysis of Occupational Mobility
    • Matrices for Brazil and Mexico
    • Education and Mobility
    • Conclusions
  • Appendix C. Portuguese Translation of Value Scales
  • Appendix D. Spanish Translation of Value Scales
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Joseph A. Kahl (1923–2010) was Professor of Sociology at Cornell University.