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Materialist and Postmaterialist

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Materialist and Postmaterialist

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  • July 2006
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Historically and instinctually humans are materialist creatures. Materialism can be defined as the mindset of valuing "economic security, law and order, and national defense.1" (Dalton, 2006 84). Our primary goals and values naturally constitute what is necessary for survival. In advanced industrialized nations (typically democracies) society has made significant progress and assured security and sustenance needs so they no longer demand maximum attention. Since so many primary needs are assured in these countries, especially from the 1970's-present the value system of the people has shifted. The resulting post-materialist generations value the intellectual and aesthetic aspects of post-materialism over the more basic materialistic needs of less developed societies.

Ronald Inglehart, a researcher and theorist developed two theories to explain value changes in advancing industrial societies. The first is the scarcity hypothesis. This helps to explain and predict how people assign their values. It states that people will long for what they don't have or what is in small supply. The second theory developed by Inglehart is the socialization hypothesis. It states that the pre-adult years are when one's value priorities are constructed. Even critics agree that a person's alignment as a materialist or post-materialist is formed primarily during ones youth. In democratic societies since the Second World War a post-materialist Generations of youth who grow up in materialist households tend to produce post-materialist offspring. This could be because the basic materialist principles such as food, safety, shelter, and economic security were always present and in a stable state during childhood. Since there was never a time during youth when these materialist values were scarce or deficient, they are of less importance and lower priority in the rearing generations. Since some of the more basic aspects of life are filled the youth ponder and assign value in...

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