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Smith, Michael L., Petr Matějů

Two Decades of Value Change: The Crystallization of Meritocratic and Egalitarian Beliefs in the Czech Republic

Smith, Michael L., Petr Matějů. 2012. „Two Decades of Value Change: The Crystallization of Meritocratic and Egalitarian Beliefs in the Czech Republic.“ Social Justice Research 25 (4): 421-439. ISSN 0885-746.

Two decades ago, scholars predicted that the economic and political transformations underway in the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe would be accompanied by fundamental shifts in societal values and norms. Unlike political reforms, changes in societal norms were believed to take place gradually, as individuals became increasingly socialized by new institutions and conditions. In this article, we analyze change in a core set of societal norms—beliefs in distributive justice—in the Czech Republic over the last two decades, and locate those trends in regional perspective. What we find is that, over time, the negative association between egalitarian and meritocratic norms has increasingly strengthened, suggesting a crystallization of those norms as opposing value sets. In addition, attachments to those norms are increasingly structured by respondents’ socio-economic status. In other words, the research confirms that subjective norms in the Czech Republic are increasingly shaped by objective social status in ways common in advanced democracies, and that we can speak not only of a crystallization of the value system, but of a corresponding “re-stratification” of justice beliefs in relation to social position.

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