This chapter has two aims: first, to show how post‐modern theory helps explain contemporary value changes in Western Europe, and their impact on beliefs about the role and legitimacy of government; second, to demonstrate how the concept of post‐modernism can be operationalized and put to empirical use. It hypothesizes the emergence of new ‘structures of feeling’ and new formations of values, which are united by little else than a common yearning for identity and self‐expression. This hypothesis implies that, rather than moving in patterns structured around socio‐economic groupings, people move in a multitude of both individual‐ and group‐based directions. They will thereby create new patterns of value orientation, which will affect beliefs about government behaviour and transcend traditional allegiances and interests.
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