A large body of empirical evidence demonstrates that the basic values of mass publics in advanced industrial societies have changed over the last three decades. The same research also shows that there are significant and persistent crossnational differences in values. This chapter considers whether the trajectory and pace of value change in advanced industrial countries is leading to convergence or divergence in the values of publics in Europe and North America.
The question of value convergence or divergence can be conceptualized and addressed empirically in at least two ways. The most straightforward approach entails identifying common value domains among European and North American publics and then asking, Have these become more, or less, alike over the two decades for which we have data? A second approach, however, is to explore the internal dynamics of value change by examining how North American and European publics organize their core values. After outlining some different perspectives on value change and describing our data and methodological approach, we present the basic crossnational and crosstime evidence of change on single-value dimensions for publics in Europe and North America. The focus then shifts to consider the matter of how publics on both continents bundle their basic value outlooks. Do the publics in North America and Europe organize their basic value outlooks in similar or different ways? And are there discernible patterns in the way in which these core values have changed over the same period?