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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: June 2012

19 - Value Transmission and Zeitgeist Revisited



In a family, similarity between parent and offspring values can originate from three sources: (1) direct and mediated value-transmission effects of parents' values on the values of their children; (2) processes of adaptation of the parents to values and attitudes of their children; and (3) parents and children being affected similarly by the context within which they live (Boehnke, 2001; Knafo, 2003; Kohn, 1983; Urban & Singelmann, 1998). Intrafamilial processes of value transmission do not take place in an isolated family-only environment but rather in a specific societal context. All members of the family are in permanent contact with this context through peers, mass media, schooling, or work groups. As such, context effects can proceed from the educational system, the socioeconomic situation, or the societal value climate.

There are a growing number of studies dealing with context effects on intergenerational transmission. Urban and Singelmann (1998) define the context implicitly as the amount of variance of the child's values that is not explained by the father's and the mother's values. Other studies deal with context more explicitly. Knafo (2003) analyzes how parents' attitudes – in interplay with the school environment – influence children's values. His findings suggest that a stronger value transmission pertains in high-fit contexts – that is, when parents share the values of the children's school environment. Knafo explains this as follows: A high fit between the educational ideology of parents and the school environment leads to less value conflict within the family.

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