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No Postmaterialists in Foxholes: Modernization, Nationalism and National Threat in the People's Republic of China and Beyond

Reilly, Jonathan J. (2013) No Postmaterialists in Foxholes: Modernization, Nationalism and National Threat in the People's Republic of China and Beyond. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The theoretical and empirical underpinnings of contemporary modernization and postmaterialism literature strongly imply an insidious Catch-22 dilemma for contemporary authoritarian regimes. If such regimes fail to deliver economic growth, they lose their key basis of popular support and are removed from power. If such regimes are successful in effecting heightened socio-economic growth, they unwittingly unleash an attendant set of societal changes that render their autocratic mode of rule increasingly unpalatable to the very population that has so keenly benefited from the economic goods that they have provided. The causal mechanism linking economic failure with regime demise in the first scenario is rather straightforward; in the second scenario it is the emergence and expansion of postmodern “self-expression” values – with postmaterialist values emphasizing emancipation and personal choice at their core – that serve as the causal linkage between economic prosperity and popular demand for political liberalization.
The current study has provided theoretical and empirical evidence indicating that individuals’ perception of the relative level of external threat facing their nation has potentially profound consequences for their measured levels of postmaterialist values, with higher levels of perceived threat/insecurity tending to be associated with lower levels of overall postmaterialism and lower levels of threat/insecurity tending to be associated with higher levels of postmaterialism. As the findings in the current study strongly indicate, citizens’ perception of the extent to which the relative power and prestige of their nation as a whole are either threatened or assured is likely to also have a strong impact on their ordering of the values priorities contained within the postmaterialism question batteries. Yet long-term predictions presented in the extant modernization literature regarding the development of postmaterialist/self-expression values in economically-developing authoritarian societies – and the increasing demands for democratization that they are presumed to bring – have generally made virtually no reference to issues of critical issues of national pride, national identity or national threat. The findings of the current study thus indicate that such predictions need to be re-visited and possibly revised, with a broader set of societal factors, indicators and phenomena taken into account.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Reilly, Jonathan J.jreilly@pitt.eduJREILLY
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBarker, David
Committee MemberLandry, Pierrepflandry@pitt.eduPFLANDRY
Committee MemberMorgenstern, Scottsmorgens@pitt.eduSMORGENS
Committee MemberTang,
Date: 2 July 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 4 October 2012
Approval Date: 2 July 2013
Submission Date: 10 December 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 234
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: modernization, china, nationalism, postmaterialism, national threat, authoritarianism, political science, political behavior
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2013 13:57
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:08


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