Are Parents Decisive? The Intergenerational Transmission of Social Axioms Under Conditions of Rapid Social Change

Part of the International and Cultural Psychology book series (ICUP)

The chapter reports a study of 149 East German university students and their parents. It addresses six research questions: (1) the structural equivalence of social axioms across generations, (2) their positional stability across generations (i.e., a high parent—child correlation), (3) differences in the average endorsement of social axioms between generations, (4) differences in parent— child correlations for same-gender as opposed to opposite-gender parent—child dyads, (5) the impact of parental similarity on the endorsement of social axioms in intergenerational transmission, and (6) the importance of zeitgeist for intergenerational transmission. The central finding of the reported study is that—under conditions of rapid social change, as found in East Germany after unification—the five social axioms differ largely in the extent to which they are transmitted from one generation to the next. Strongest transmission effects among the five social axioms were found for religiosity. Only for that dimension of social axioms does one find high structural, intergenerational similarity that speaks for a fully equivalent definition of the social axiom dimension across generations, and a high intergenerational correlation. This does not only mean that religiousness is transmitted well in East German families; the same pertains also to areligiousness. A family's views on religion tend to be quite homogeneous across generations.


Intergenerational Transmission Social Complexity Parent Decisive Parental Agreement Subjective Appraisal 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Professor of Social Science MethodologyJacobs University BremenBremenGermany

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