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The role of plurality and context in social values

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The study of social values has its origins in the study of both cross cultural and within cultural differences in latent or manifest definitions of the right social order to achieve the good life. To this extent, the social scientific literature is replete with references to them. Yet, researchers either use the term values Social values are often used interchangeably with that of attitudes or treated as a post-hoc explanatory concept. When values are the focal research point, such endeavours predominantly depart from universal and reductionist understandings of their functions, meanings and structures. Through tracing the roots of key theoretical and empirical investigations in values, originating in the work of Charles Morris, Gordon Allport, Florence Kluckhohn and Fred Strodtbeck, Milton Rokeach and Shalom Schwartz, we reveal the common as well as the different tenets underpinning their work. It will be shown that these accounts have lost sight of the importance of plurality and context. We claim that a renewed program of research in values is needed, which should be characterised by methodological pluralism in order to investigate a) value plurality, b) value specificity and c) values as properties and as processes.

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