This article demonstrates that studies in political sociology are flawed, because they fail to distinguish between moral conservatism/progressiveness and authoritarianism/libertarianism. Such a distinction is necessary, because historically and theoretically speaking, it is the process of modernization (de-pillarization in the Dutch case) that erodes the former’s salience and, through the alienation and anomie this creates, increases the latter’s. Hypotheses derived from this theory are strikingly confirmed. First, the well-established strong correlation between both value dimensions proves solely caused by the circumstance that moral progressiveness and libertarianism go hand in hand: moral conservatism and authoritarianism are almost unrelated. Second, whereas moral conservatism/progressiveness proves decisive for the voting behaviour of those who belong to a pillar, it is authoritarianism/libertarianism that underlies the vote of those who do no not belong to a pillar. It is concluded that the common practice in political sociology to lump both value dimensions together needs to be abandoned, because it produces theoretically unclear research findings.

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Amsterdam University Press
Centre for Rotterdam Cultural Sociology (CROCUS)
Mens en Maatschappij: tijdschrift voor sociale wetenschappen
Department of Sociology

de Koster, W., & van der Waal, J. (2008). Moreel conservatisme en autoritarisme theoretisch en methodisch ontward (No. SOC-2006-012). Mens en Maatschappij: tijdschrift voor sociale wetenschappen (Vol. 81, pp. 121–141). Retrieved from