Postmaterialist Values and the Environment: A Critique and Reappraisal

Quentin Kidd, Aie Rie Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Objective. In a recent study, Steven R. Brechin and Willett Kempton show that environmentalism is present in both wealthy and poor countries and suggest that environmentalism is thus not a product of the postmaterialist culture shift. The purpose of the present research is to reexamine the relationship between postmaterialist values and global environmentalism. Methods. This research analyzes data from the World Values Survey, 1990-1993. Unlike the data Brechin and Kempton used, the World Values Survey includes a measure of postmaterialism. Results. This research shows that, while environmentalism is certainly universal, postmaterialist differences are also obvious. Respondents who identify as postmaterialists tend to be more concerned about the environment than are respondents who identify as materialists, regardless of the economic development level of their society. Conclusions. Brechin and Kempton's findings are inaccurate and are largely the result of overgeneralizing the postmaterialist-values thesis and using data that are inadequate to test the relationship between postmaterialism and environmentalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)X-15
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1997


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