Values, Attitudes, and Political Participation in Mexico



Values, Attitudes, and Political Participation in Mexico

Valores, actitudes y participación política en México

Valores, atitudes e participação política no México

Alejandro Pastrana-Valls1

1 Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, México.

Recibido: 2017-02-02
Enviado a pares: 2017-03-22
Aprobado por pares: 2017-07-11
Aceptado: 2017-08-22

Para citar este artículo / to reference this article / para citar este artigo: Pastrana-Valls, A. (2018). Values, attitudes and political participation in Mexico. Palabra Clave, 21(3), 673-709. DOI: 10.5294/pacla.2018.21.3.3


This study uses the material and post-material values described by Inglehart (in his book "The silent revolution, changing values and political styles among western publics") and applies the methods developed by Schwartz (in his 1992 article "Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries") to identify distinct dimensions of human values in the Mexican case. This paper focuses on materialist and post-materialist values, human values and their effect on instrumental and symbolic political participation. The analysis also investigates the implications of birth cohort on political participation and the impact of attachment to distinct values within generations on those two forms of political action. This suggests a change in the country's democratic culture or at least a democratic political culture, which is distinctly larger than the one observed in the post-revolutionary era.

Keywords: Political values; attitudes; instrumental participation; symbolic participation (Source: Unesco Thesaurus).


Este estudio usa los valores materiales y posmateriales descritos por Inglehart (en su libro The silent revolution, changing values and political styles among western publics) y aplica los métodos desarrollados por Schwartz (en su artículo de 1992 "Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries") para identificar las distintas dimensiones de los valores humanos en el caso de México. Este artículo se centra en los valores materialistas y posmaterialistas, los valores humanos y su efecto sobre la participación política instrumental y simbólica. El análisis también investiga las consecuencias de la cohorte de nacimiento en la participación política y el impacto del apego a valores distintos dentro de las generaciones en esas dos formas de acción política. Lo anterior sugiere un cambio en la cultura democrática del país o al menos una cultura política democrática, que es claramente mayor que la observada en la era posrevolucionaria.

Palabras clave: Valores políticos; actitudes; participación instrumental; participación simbólica (Fuente: Tesauro de la Unesco).


O presente estudo utiliza os valores materiais e pós-materiais descritos por Inglehart (no livro intitulado The silent revolution, changing values and political styles among western publics) e aplica os métodos desenvolvidos por Schwartz (no artigo Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries, de 1992) para identificar diferentes dimensões dos valores humanos no caso do México. Este artigo se concentra nos valores materialistas e pós-materialistas, nos valores humanos e seus efeitos na participação política instrumental e simbólica. A análise também investiga a implicação da coorte de nascimento na participação política e o impacto do apego a diferentes valores dentro de gerações nessas formas de ação política. Isso sugere uma mudança na cultura democrática do país ou, pelo menos, uma cultura política democrática, que é consideravelmente maior do que a que foi observada na era pós-revolucionária.

Palavras-chave: Atitudes; participação instrumental; participação simbólica; valores políticos (Fonte: Tesauro da Unesco).


The analysis of political values in Mexico has been limited to the research conducted by Moreno (2005), who found a process of change in the country's political culture, using data from the World Values Survey (years 1981, 1990, 1996-1997, and 2000), the European Values Study (1999), and the Banamex Foundation (two surveys from 2003). During the 1980s, the Mexicans moved from traditional values to the characteristic values of a modern society. This transition towards modernity is reflected in the "abandonment of the traditional patterns of authority," (Moreno, 2005, p. 50), a growing secularism and a weakening of the nationalism that had powered the revolutionary discourse (Moreno, 2005, p. 50). However, in the 1990s and early 21st century, Mexicans took up the typical values of a traditional society again. In short, Moreno (2005, p. 173) concluded that Mexican society had moved towards a reunion with nationalism in an era of globalization, in the direction of the resurgence of spirituality in a diversifying world, towards the reconsideration of deference in a country that went from authoritarianism1 to democracy and, above all, the gradual replacement of a culture of survival by a culture of self-expression and appreciation for the freedom of choice.

Moreno's (2005) research opened the debate about the importance of values in Mexico. However, he limited himself to an analysis of the development of the traditional and modern values in Mexican society. This research will contribute to the study of both human (Schwartz, 1992) and materialistic and post-materialistic (Inglehart, 1977) values, and consider their effect on non-electoral political participation in different generations2.

Also, we theorize that the new generations—those born in the generation of political alternation—will use other mechanisms of participation (symbolic and instrumental). The components of these new channels of participation are defined by human values, as outlined by Schwartz (1992), and material or post-material values, as described by Inglehart (1977); these are values that every citizen possesses. The analysis also investigates the implications of birth cohort on political participation, as well as the impact of attachment to distinct values within generations with regard to the two different forms of political action.

In summary, this document investigates the impact of attachment to distinct values and attitudes within generations on different forms of political action (for example, participating in demonstrations and signing petitions) and the implications of different generations on political participation. This analysis suggests a change in Mexican citizens—they have a different political culture that is distinctly larger than the one observed in the post-revolutionary era (the period in which the political parties were founded and formed).

Values and Political Attitudes

For any democracy to function, it is necessary for the citizens to hold and share certain basic values and attitudes towards different issues. The values and beliefs of citizens regarding the political system and political actors are crucial for democratic effectiveness. Therefore, it is essential to know the contexts of these concepts in order to determine the effect they have on the various forms of political participation.

The terms values and attitudes have been used interchangeably due to problems with their measurement (Hitlin & Piliavin, 2004; Rohan, 2000). For Davidov, Schmidt, and Schwartz (2008) values are "desirable objectives that vary in importance, which serve as guiding principles in people's lives" ' (p. 423). These are abstract motivations that justify, suggest and express the attitudes, opinions and actions of individuals (Schwartz, 1992).

In this sense, Inglehart (1977), by applying the logic of Maslow's value hierarchy, described two types of values, which can be defined according to the goals they achieve. Materialist values reflect strong defense forces, crime fighting, order maintenance, a stable economy, economic growth, and contesting rising prices, while post-materialist values reflect beautiful cities, the expression of ideas, free speech, a less impersonal society, more say on the job, and more say in government.

Political attitudes reflect a "psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor" (Eagly & Chaiken, 1998, p. 269). Attitudes appear to be unstable over time (Converse, 1964), while values tend to be stable over time (Heath, Evans, & Martin, 1994; Inglehart, 1985). Some attitudes—possibly including partisanship—may be quite stable, because they are based on considerable knowledge and feeling. In general, attitudes can be placed on a continuum, from non-attitudes where the individual brings nothing to bear on a subject, to strong attitudes where the individual brings a great deal to bear and their viewpoint is fully crystallized.

Values are relevant in the generation of political attitudes because they influence attitudes, and people may structure their evaluations and perceptions based on political attitudes (Knutsen, 1995; Miller & Shanks, 1996; Zaller, 1992). For example, some people relate to opinions on war (Cohrs et al., 2005), human rights (Spini & Doise, 1998), immigration (Schwartz, 2007), or environmental considerations (Schultz & Zelezny, 1999).

Values guide behavior and evaluations (Schwartz, 1992, 1994). Although they develop in childhood, they are reinforced throughout life by a process of political culturization (Feldman, 1988). Schwartz (1992) introduced a basic theory of human values, identifying ten motivational values, which take into account different cultures and religions and consider distinct theoretical discussions.

The theory described by Schwartz (1992) maintains that there is a circular structure of dynamic relationships between values. The pursuit of one particular value may generate conflict with or be consistent with other values. For example, openness to change—which refers to independent work, thought, sentiment, and preparation for new experiences—is contrary to conservative or traditional values that emphasize self-restraint, resistance to change, and adherence to order. Davidov, Schimidt and Scwhartz (2008) summarize the structure of relations of the basic values in two dimensions: the self-enhancement versus the self-transcendence dimension, and the openness to change versus the conservation dimension.

Schwartz (2005a, 2005b) and Davidov, Schmidt, and Schwartz (2008) have provided some evidence that this structure is applicable in more than sixty nations, although they did not study the case of Mexico. Various studies have found a well-documented empirical relationship between values and political preferences (Feldman, 1988; Zaller & Feldman, 1992) and between values and electoral behavior (Evans, Heath, & Lalljee, 1996; Knut-sen & Kumlin, 2005). The measurement of values after Schwartz (1992) has stimulated the empirical analysis of the relationships between values, attitudes, and behavior (Hitlin & Piliavin, 2004; Schwartz, 2005a, 2005b). However, little is known about the general relationship between these values and non-electoral political participation, and even less is understood in the specific case of Mexico.

Political Participation and Models

Sociologists and political theorists have generated a debate on the vision of modern democracy in a complex and industrialized society (Mosca, 1939; Weber, 1946; Schumpeter, 1950; Lipset, 1994). These visions underline the importance of stability, the decentralization of public administration, and the elite's electoral political competition, where the role of participation in the electoral process is reduced. In this context, the debate between Dewey and Lippman focuses on two ideas: human nature and democratic nature and its social purpose. Lippman (1925, 1965) understands human nature as passive and irrational, so citizens become spectators of democratic development, where their only responsibility is to choose between one of two parties, with few differences. On the other hand, Dewey (1927) points out that the human nature is active and rational. As the nature of democracy, Lippman (1925, 1965) believes that this is a means of achieving an end where there is political stability and social order. Instead, Dewey (1967) argues that democracy is as much an end as a means, and emphasizes the social impact, self-realization, and normative implications. This research suggests that Mexican citizens and the democratic regime are more inclined to the democratic perception pretended by Dewey (1967). However, it is important to consider that Lippmann's (1925, 1965) vision gives a possibility of future research on this subject and under this perspective.

Democracy is unimaginable without participation. However, numerous established democracies have low levels of participation—mainly related to suffrage—and citizens' lack of political interest. Democracy is grounded on two principles: political participation and equality. In this sense, a democratic regime has four central components: a political system with free and fair elections where rulers are elected; an active and participatory population; protection of human rights; and, the application of law and procedures equally for all individuals. The citizen and democracy are complementary. A modern, representative and deliberative democracy needs the participation of informed, conscious and free citizens. Mexican democracy needs responsible citizens, not only in the electoral field, but also in different forms and spheres of public life (Woldenberg, 2006).

Therefore, political participation is crucial for the democratic development of a country; without participation, there is no effective democracy (Whiteley, 2012). Various forms of formal and informal participation, for example, the discussion of political issues at home or at work (Dowse & Hughes, 1977; Whiteley, 2012), are designed to influence—directly or indirectly—the development of the government (Verba et al., 1978). Whiteley (2012) considered that political participation can be divided into symbolic (to express an opinion) and instrumental (to achieve a specific result).

There are two theories that can explain citizens' political participation, and they reflect two different approaches: sociological explanations3 and the explanations that put individual decisions at the center of the analysis4. For the sociological approach, participation is determined by social status, employment status, education, income, social context, the organizations to which an individual belongs (Parry, Moyser, & Day, 1992), and the social capital of the citizen (Coleman, 1988, 1990; Putnam, 2000). The second approach is based on two models: the cognitive engagement model, where political participation is determined by the skill and disposition of the individual to assimilate information (Clarke et al., 2004; Dalton, 2005; Norris, 2000), and the general incentives model, where participation is determined by a cost-benefit calculation (Olson, 1965; Seyd & Whiteley, 1992, 2002; Whiteley & Seyd, 2002). Despite their differences, these two approaches contribute to the understanding of the determinants of political participation.

Verba et al. (1995) suggested that an individual's political participation is conditional on the amount of resources needed to perform the activity. Usually, these resources are scarce and unevenly distributed in society; therefore, participation levels vary considerably from group to group (Rosenstone & Hansen, 2003). Generally, studies find that wealthier, educated, young, religious and married men are more likely to participate in politics compared to others (Armingeon, 2007). The second type of bias indicates that political interest, political opinion, subjective political efficacy (Armingeon, 2007), political trust (Dalton, 2004) and civic duty are strongly associated with political participation (Dalton, 2008). Citizens are more likely to participate in politics if they are more interested in political affairs, believe that they can influence the election results, hold more radical positions on the left-right scale and possess a higher sense of civic duty.

The study carried out by Almond and Verba (1963) identified various connections between values and political attitudes and the subsequent level of democratic participation. Values and attitudes emerge and work to support the democratic institutions; for example, voting is conceptualized as "a moral obligation" and the notion that "to not vote implies a breach of civic duty is strongly rooted" (Blais, 2000, p. 99).

Democracy either requires—or at least strongly implies—social participation in multiple spaces, resulting in a political equality that will in turn encourage institutions to expand liberties. The degree of a citizen's commitment and connection to the activity distinguishes the various modes of political participation: "1) elections (voting), 2) participation in political campaigns, 3) particularized contact, or 4) activities for the benefit of the community" (Verba, Nie, & Kim, 1971, p. 78). Verba and Nie (1972) and Verba, Nie, and Kim (1978) suggested that these political actions differ according to four dimensions: scope of outcome (how many citizens can be affected by the act); degree of conflict (absence of presence of active counter-participants); initiative (time and effort needed in choosing how and when to act); and cooperation (the act is done individually or through interaction with others).

These forms of political action appear to be changing, as "the old forms of political participation—voting, party work and campaign activity—are declining" (Dalton, 2005, p. 73). People fail to participate because of a sense of political ineffectiveness (Shaffer, 1981); the lack of a sense of civic obligation (Almond & Verba, 1963); they feel little partisan attachment (Campbell et al., 1960; Dalton, 2005; Miller, 1991); they possess few educational resources (Wolfinger & Rosentones, 1980); or they exhibit some combination of these factors (Abramson & Aldrich, 1982). People with weak or non-existent party bonds are less concerned with politics and election outcomes and are less likely to vote. Political dissatisfaction, however, may also motivate a citizen to participate—provoking anger and a need for retribution (Dalton, 2008). Citizens participate when they consider that electoral decisions have a real influence on the creators of public policies (Dalton, 2005; Pattie, Seyd, & Whiteley, 2004).

In this sense, Brennan and Lomasky (1993) argued that elections are decided by everyone, not just by an individual. Therefore, voting choice is an expression of socio-demographic or ideological traits, rather than profit maximization. The authors pointed out that, even if people always have the same motivations, regardless of context, this does not mean that those motivations will be expressed in exactly the same way. Consequently, Schuessler (2000a, 2000b) concluded that focusing only on ballots could generate an over-estimation of this form of political participation. Therefore, it is important to consider that, sometimes, citizens want to express who they are and what they care about (Schuessler, 2000b); the individual acts with the objective of being someone rather than doing something (Schuessler, 2000a).

Given the decrease in electoral participation, this research examines two forms of participation: symbolic (signing of petitions) and instrumental (participation in demonstrations). These differ considerably across the four dimensions (scope of outcome, degree of conflict, initiative, cooperation), as previously described by Verba, Nie and Kim (1978). In symbolic participation, the participation of many people is not required; there is no conflict; very little time and effort are required; and the interaction with other participants can be almost zero. In contrast, instrumental participation requires a greater effort of cooperation. This type of participation will undoubtedly affect many people, and it can reach a high degree of conflict, therefore requiring greater effort and time.

Generations Effect on Political Participation

Jennings and Niemi (1981) argued that political learning extends beyond childhood. In the same sense, Conover (1991) claims that cohort effect and life cycle are linked, as citizen change political choices during life; however, each generation reacts in a different way to the same experience or event. Inglehart (1995) concluded that future learning needs to overcome the impact of past beliefs, demonstrating generational differences. Jennings (1989) summarizes these considerations in the following way:

[...] young adulthood is the time of identity formation. It is at this age that political history can have a critical impact on a cohort's political makeup in a direct, experiential fashion. [...] The political significance of the crystallization process lies in the content of that which is crystallizing, the social, political, and historical materials that are being worked over and experienced by the young during these formative years. For it is this content that colors the cohort. If the color differs appreciably from that attached to past cohorts, we have the making of a political generation. (p. 347).

New democracies are not as effective in representative terms as those previously established. Political socialization is a crucial process in the transition of an authoritarian regime to a democratic regime (Neundorf, 2010). In general, adult citizens have unconsciously learned to accept and live with the political system with which they are confronted (Mishler & Rose, 1996). In this respect, the concepts of cohort and generation are usually used as something similar. Generations are defined by a common historical moment, and the concept of cohorts describes a group of persons that share the same birth years. For this document, I will focus on generations (Tilley, 2002; Mishler & Rose 2007). The division into generations is based on the time of coming of age. Mishler and Rose (2007) suggested that youths in the age of about 14 or 15 start to recognize the political scope.

This investigation distinguishes three generations, all defined by important political events that brought about transcendental changes in Mexican society:

• The party system generation: those who came into adulthood during the dominant party system, from 1921 through 1976 (representing 33.57% of the sample). This period began at the close of the Mexican Revolution and ended with the hegemony of the PRI.

• The pluralism generation: those who came into adulthood between 1977 and 1988 (27.74% of the sample). This generation is characterized by the political reform of 1977, which holds as its axis an enlargement of national representation, permitting representation to the minority political powers in the House of Representatives and local congresses, guaranteeing plurality and inciting greater political participation.

• Lastly, the alternation generation: those who came to adulthood during the period from 1989, when the PAN won its first election for the governor in Baja California, up until the present day (representing 38.69% of the sample).

To define these generational groups, researchers have used evidence about when individuals acquire their attitudes. The ranges of birth cohort are:

The party system generation: those born before 1963;

The pluralism generation: those born between 1963 and 1974;

The alternation generation: those born after 1974.

Research Questions and Hypotheses

This investigation centers on the study of the relationship between: dimensions of basic human values (Davidov, Schmidt, & Schwartz, 2008); material and post-material values (Inglehart, 1977); and changes in political participation, both instrumental and symbolic (Whiteley, 2012).

Therefore, our hypotheses are:

H1: Despite ideological self-placement, citizens who have higher basic values (either in the dimension of openness-conservation or self-transcendence-self-enhancement) have lower probability ofparticipating through demonstrations and the signing of petitions.

H2: Regardless of ideological self-placement, citizens with post-materialist and mixed (a combination of materialist and post-materialist) values have a greater probability of participating through instrumental and symbolic actions.

It is important to indicate that this suggests a difference—an expected sign—in the effect of these different values: in the basic values described by Schwartz (1992), and in the material and post-materialist values described by Inglehart (1977). The first set of basic values reflects a more moderate citizen, or a citizen tied to the traditional development of the political and institutional life of the country. On the other hand, the post-materialist values (and mixed values) are related to a modern citizen who, in the search for an improvement, is seeking new avenues or systems to contribute to national development.

Birth cohort and political values are determinants in determining the type of political action that citizens take. Therefore, the generational hypothesis suggests:

H3: The political pluralism and political alternation generations have lower probability of engaging in unorthodox forms of participation, such as demonstrations and signing petitions, than the party system generation.

This relationship suggests that citizens from the contemporary generations have lost the connection and the sympathy with the political process, due to a change in the social structure; a reduction in partisanship, or the inexistence of ideological differences between political parties; a null civic commitment; or a significant decrease in the incentive not to participate (Whiteley, 2012). By knowing the effects of values and generations on symbolic and instrumental political participation, this research analyses the discrepancy in the weights that each generation places on the values. It further assesses the ways in which the structure of the determinants of political participation varies according to these generations and, consequently, according to the process of socialization of the individual. As a result, basic, post-materialist and mixed values are expected to have greater weight for future generations, and primarily for those socialized in a democratic regime.

Membership of a generation influences the weight that citizens give to each dimension of political values. Accordingly:

H4: Citizens who are part of the political pluralism and political alternation generations, who have higher basic values, have a lower probability of participating in legal and passive manifestations and the signing of petitions.

H5: People who belong to the political pluralism and political alternation generations, who have post-materialist and mixed (materialist and post-materialist) values, have a greater probability of participating in non-electoral actions.

Data, Variables, and Models

In this sense, this paper has three goals. The first one is to generate the two dimensions of values in the Mexican case by using the method developed by Schwartz (1992). The two dimensions of values are self-enhancement versus the dimension of self-transcendence, and openness to change versus the dimension of conservation. The second goal is to measure the effect that these dimensions and the material-post-material values (Inglehart, 1977) have on instrumental and symbolic political participation. The third aim is to investigate the consequences of birth cohort for political participation and the impact of attachment to distinct values within generations on those two forms of political action.

Before presenting the corresponding results, the next section describes the data, the hypotheses, the models, and the variables used in this investigation.


This research uses the data published by the World Values Survey (WVS). This is a major survey roughly comparable in scope to the American National Election Studies and the British Election Studies.

The questionnaires employed by the WVS are the most important source of statistical information for studies on attitudes and values in the Mexican case. The questions associated with values are "distant" from the questions related to attitudes and to those concerning political participation. Consequently, the structure of the questionnaire should reduce the risk—identified by Sears and Lau (1983)—that responses may represent a rationalization of political behavior and an effort to ensure consistency. This database contains a wealth of empirical information for the purpose of this investigation.

The objective in using the WVS data was to cover all years. Unfortunately, not all of the questionnaires included the necessary questions, therefore our investigation was restricted to data for the year 2005 (the fourth wave).

Moreno, Mantillas, and Gutierrez conducted the Mexico survey in 2005. The organization that was charged with collecting the information was the Reforma group. The questionnaire used a procedure of gradual sampling—that is, interviewees were selected at random, controlling for age and gender, which is common practice in rural areas. In total, more than 1560 interviews with the adult population (over 18 years old) were carried out. In general terms, this sample is representative of the country's population (WVS Official Data, 2005).

It is important to notice that secondary data has important limitations. Sometimes the information is not relevant to the research, making it impossible to answer the research questions (Boslaugh, 2007). In addition, it is possible that there are not sufficient data to meet the requirements of the research project, meaning that the research questions cannot be answered. In this respect, since the researcher was not the one who collected the data, it is possible he has no control over the information, which limits the analysis and, therefore, sometimes it is necessary to modify the research question. Another limiting factor in using secondary data is that the researcher may not understand how the process of data generation and collection was performed (Boslaugh, 2007), so it may not be known how (or whether) the data has been affected by the rate of non-response or by the lack of understanding of the questionnaire. Sometimes this information is available (for example, in the dataset used in this document). However, in many other cases, this type of information is not freely available.


For the dependent variable, this paper distinguishes between two types of political participation, instrumental and symbolic, previously described by Whiteley (2012). The attendance at a peaceful/lawful demonstration variable is used to indicate instrumental political participation, while signing a petition is used to indicate symbolic participation.

For the independent variables, each of the constructs generated represents an abstract concept, developed from the observed variables. The two constructs relating to basic humans values are based on the ten basic values identified by Schwartz (1992). These are: 1) power; 2) social achievement; 3) hedonism; 4) stimulation; 5) self-direction; 6) universalism; 7) benevolence; 8) tradition; 9) confirmatory; and 10) security.

Responses to survey items measuring these elements are used to create two latent variables, and these variables can be used to summarize the basic values: self-enhancement vs. self-transcendence and openness to change vs. conservation.5 All of the variables are codified from the smallest to the largest.

For the materialist and post-materialist values defined by Inglehart (1977), the index generated by the World Values Survey will be used for the year of study. For attitudes, we use the variable importance of democracy and satisfaction with the financial situation of one's household. The control variables used are based on ideological self-placement6 and socio-demographic variables (e.g., education, employment status, income, age, gender, subjective social class, civil state, and religion).


The construct variables are generated using Exploratory (EFA) and Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA), as it is necessary to explore the relationship between operational indicators and theoretical constructs. The EFA determines the minimum number of latent variables; on the other hand, the CFA establishes the relations between the variables. Having generated these constructs, we will test hypotheses 1 and 2 using a logit (Wooldridge, 2002, 2003); for hypothesis 3 we will use a main effect analysis (Mitchell & Chen, 2005); and for hypotheses 4 and 5 we will use a multigroup logit model (Muthén & Muthén, 2010).

The EFA, CFA and multigroup logit models were estimated using M-Plus version 7. The main effect analysis and the logit models were estimated using STATA version 11.


To test the hypothesis of this research, it is necessary to generate the latent variables linked to these two value dimensions. Therefore, the first aim is to establish the feasibility of the generation of these variables.

For Brown (2006), three methodologies exist for determining the number of necessary factors: 1) the Kaiser-Guttman rule; 2) the screen test; and 3) parallel analysis. In this study, the first two will be used to constitute the number of latent variables.

In the case of the Kaiser "criterion," this model has two eigenvalues greater than 1 (eigenvalues = 2.875 and 1.591). From the graphic representation (Figure 1), we can determine that the minimum optimum number of latent variables required to explain the correlation between the observed variables is equal to 2.

Figure 1. Eigenvalues for EFA, values

Source: Own elaboration

Therefore, following the argument described by Davidov, Schmidt, and Schwartz (2008), "two dimensions summarize the structure of relations among the basic values" (p. 424): the self-enhancement versus self-transcendence dimension and the openness to change versus conservation dimension.

To evaluate the adjustment of the model on a CFA, Yu (2002) considered that the best evaluation method is based on the WRMR (less than 1) and the Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA), which should be less than 0.06. On the other hand, Bentler (1990) pointed out that for a model to adjust correctly, the Tucker-Lewis Index (TLI) should approach the range of0.90-0.95, and Yu (2002) concluded that the models with Comparative Fit Indices (CFI) at a cut-off value close to 0.96 are acceptable when there is an N ≥ 250. This model has an RMSEA equal to 0.019; meanwhile, the CFI is 0.998, the TLI is equal to 0.992, and the WRMR is equal to 0.278. Therefore, the model is correctly adjusted. In this sense, all of the loading factors—not including power—are statistically significant with a p value < 1%, and are more than sufficient for generation of the latent variable related to the basic values (for details, see Table 1).

Table 1. Unstandardized and standardized coefficients for values

Notes: Estimate, unstandardized coefficients; β, standardized coefficients.
Source: Own elaboration

As a result, it is possible to replicate the analysis of the basic values developed by Schwartz (1992). The next step will test the three hypotheses described above. A logistic regression will be used to test hypothesis 1. The models are displayed in Table 2, including important control variables such as socio-demographic and ideological orientation, as well as some variables relating to attitudes, in order to provide estimates of the unique effect of political values on distinct political actions.

Table 2. Logistic regression on political participation

Significance Levels + p<.10, * p<.05, ** p<.01, *** p<.001.
Notes: Standard errors in brackets.
Reference Categories for Inglehart’s Values: Materialist Values.
Source: Own elaboration

Models 1 to 4 confirm that the basic values established by Schwartz (1992) are associated with lower political participation in demonstrations and the signing of petitions, even when controlling for attitudes, ideology, and other variables (education, social class, gender, age).

Citizens who have higher values in the dimensions of openness versus conservation and self-enhancement versus self-transcendence are less likely to participate in passive demonstrations and the signing of petitions (Hypothesis H1)7. However, these variables are statistically significant only when the analysis is made with regard to participation in legal and peaceful demonstrations. The marginal effect, illustrated in Figure 2, demonstrates that these values have a negative association with instrumental and symbolic participation. This provides considerable support for the testing of Hypothesis H1 On this evidence, at least, people who have stronger basic values (Schwartz's Values) are less likely to engage in acts that could be linked to a rejection of the government.

Figure 2. Marginal effects of Schwartz's values

Source: Own elaboration.

Ceteris paribus, the post materialists and mixed values described by Inglehart (1977), have the expected sign (positive); however, only the post-materialist variable is significant in all cases (Hypothesis H2). This suggests that citizens who believe that they have post-materialist values are more likely to participate in a symbolic way, and those who have exclusively materialistic values participate in instrumental ways.

To test Hypothesis H3, an analysis of the main effect was developed. This type of graph analysis evaluates the effect of averaging variables across all of the other variables in the model. Each graph represents the relationship between the dummy variable of the generation (either the pluralism generation or the alternation generation), and the probability of participating in an instrumental or symbolic action while considering the contribution of the covariates (CC).8

Figure 3 presents the generation gap that exists in terms of participation in demonstrations; it shows how the difference between the predicted probabilities slightly decreases as the CC changes from the 20th to the 80th percentile. In other words, citizens in the pluralism and political alternation generations—compared to the party system generation—have lower probability of participation in demonstrations (Hypothesis H3); nevertheless, this difference is very small.

Figure 3. Main effect analysis on demonstrations, predicted probabilities as function of CC

Source: Own elaboration.

Figure 4 presents the main effect of the dependent variable: signing of petitions. These graphical representations suggest that, compared to the citizens of the party system generation, citizens who belong to the pluralism generation have a lower probability of participating in a symbolic way. In other words, the differences between various predicted probabilities vary as changes occur in the CC. However, compared to citizens belonging to the alternation generation, the results reveal no variation in the probability of participating in the signing of petitions (Hypothesis H3).

Figure 4. Main effect analysis on signing of petitions, predicted probabilities as function of CC

Source: Own elaboration.

To verify the relationship between these distinct generations and the weight they place on political values, logit models were developed by groups. These are defined by each of the three generations. Table 3 shows the analysis of the logit models by groups. It describes the symbolic and instrumental political participation according to the two value dimensions described by Schwartz (1992) and the values defined by Inglehart (1977).

Table 3. Logistic model on political participation. Group analysis

Notes: Significant values in bolds. Reference Categories for Inglehart's Values: Materialist Values.
Source: Own elaboration.

These models imply that for the party system and pluralism generations, demographic variables (i.e. education level, marital status and social class) define participation in peaceful demonstrations and the signing of petitions. For example, married citizens of the party system generation who are more educated are more likely to participate instrumentally. In the same manner, men belonging to the pluralism generation who are more educated are more likely to participate in a symbolic way. For these two generations, the variables relevant for this project (Schwartz's values and Inglehart's values) are not statistically significant (Hypothesis H4 and Hypothesis H5).

The analysis of the alternation generation concluded that the values in the dimension of openness-conservation and self-transcendence/self-enhancement (Hypothesis H4), as well as the post materialist values (Hypothesis H5), determine citizens' participation in demonstrations. These variables are statistically significant and have the expected sign. On the other hand, the demographic variables and control variables are not significant.

The symbolic participation of the alternation generation is determined by the values of dimensions of openness vs. conservation and post-materialists and mixed values. These variables are statistically significant and have the expected sign. On the other hand, some demographic variables, such as subjective social class and education, are crucial (and statistically significant) in this political participation. In the same sense, other socio-demographic variables, such as employment status, or being Catholic, which are statistically significant in models that include openness-conservation and self-transcendence/self-enhancement, also define the determination of the symbolic participation. It is worth mentioning that the self-transcendence/self-enhancement dimension appears to be a significant determinant of participation in the signing of petitions, although only at p = .10.

Therefore, we have found empirical evidence to conclude that political values and generational differences significantly influence the participation of citizens in instrumental and symbolic participation (Hypothesis H4 and Hypothesis H5). In other words, we establish that there are generational differences in the way that political values apply to political participation. The greater the degree of the values that people maintain, in addition to their identification with the democratic regime (from membership in the generation of political alternation), the less likely they are to engage in other political activities. Additionally, in the models linked to both types of participation, attitudes were not statistically significant; therefore, in 2005, political participation was determined exclusively by the citizens' political values and generational differences.


Every country is characterized by specific political attributes. Political attitudes and attributes are determined by the structure of the political system. The democratic transition in Mexico shaped and influenced the conversion of a state party system (that was in agony) to a multiparty system and, after 1996, the autonomy and independence of the Federal Electoral Institute (Instituto Federal Electoral). It created a system largely tripartite in legislative power, a semi-authoritarian political culture fed by democratic principles, and a federalism weakened by dependence on financial resources (Ai Camp, 1999).

In recent years, various analysts have dedicated a great portion of their time and intellectual energy to understanding and explaining the process of political change in Mexico. Silva-Herzog (1999) described the Mexican regime as a creature replete with "buts": "authoritarian but civil; not competitive but with periodic elections; hyper-presidential but with a large institutional continuity; with a hegemonic party of revolutionary origin but without a closed ideology, corporate but inclusive" (p. 18). For his part, Reyes Heroles (1999) concluded that Mexicans want modernity, but they also want to remain the same. In this phenomenon of transformation with great limitations, Aguilar Camín (2000) noted that the public has sought political transformation, inciting great change while still dragging along obstacles that impede the development of the democratic system. Mexicans, according to Aguilar Camín (2000), "do not believe in law, don't support authority, expect from the government more than it gives... their historic memory is full of poor democratic lessons and glorifies violence, defeat, victimization and distrust" (p. 104). That said, Mexicans have distanced themselves from the political arena because of their distrust of political institutions. This has caused a significant drop in the level of citizen participation.

However, despite these deficiencies in the country's political culture, one of the most important changes in the democratic development is that Mexicans feel that decision-making in the family is defined as a personal action, with a high level of pluralism. In this sense, an authoritarian family environment leads to the support of authoritarianism and, in turn, a non-authoritarian family environment instils non-authoritarian political models. Ai Camp (1999) suggested that these long-term trends will drive a stronger democratic political regime.

The change in politics constitutes a relevant event in Mexico's political and historic development and represents an opportunity to study the factors that intervene in the democratic transition of the country. The objective of this investigation was to identify how the political values and distinct generations of Mexicans determine the different forms of political participation. Various analyses have demonstrated the great importance of structural factors (e.g., education and income) when defining the concepts of participation and political culture (Moreno, 2005, 2009); however, this analysis goes beyond purely socioeconomic factors.

This investigation has analyzed the effect that dimensions of defined values have, according to Schwartz (1992), on instrumental and symbolic political participation (Whiteley, 2012). It has also considered the impact of various generational differences on the nature and level of participation. The study was carried out using information published by the World Values Survey in 2005.

In summary, the empirical models presented in this research demonstrate a clear relationship between political generation and values on instrumental and symbolic participation. Basic values have a negative effect on the various forms of participation; meanwhile, the effect of post-material and mixed values is positive in both types of participations, and contemporary generations are less likely to participate in demonstrations and signing of petitions.

The most important result of this investigation suggests that belonging to the alternation generation and having firm values has an important effect on the probability of a citizen's instrumental and symbolic participation. This suggests that political socialization is an important factor in political consolidation; citizens of the new democracies constantly learn about the scope and limitations of the system (Neundorf, 2010).

Generally, this investigation suggests that the transformation of the political culture of the country is dependent upon values and socialization or generational belonging. These factors are key to the consolidation of Mexican democracy.

The results represent a step forward in the study of the development of Mexico's democratic transition. This investigation is supported and sustained by literature on values, attitudes, and political participation. The use of advanced statistical techniques has demonstrated that the dimensions defined by Schwartz in 1992 are present in Mexico and, moreover, that the process of acculturation and political socialization (measured using different generations) has resulted in significant changes in the forms of political participation. However, a significant limitation of this project is that we have studied only one side of the coin: the side that analyzes the Mexican citizen as a being with human and political values that influence the forms of democratic participation. However, it is important to consider that this other side of the coin, relating to emotions and psychology, plays a central role in the understanding of political behavior.


2 Accordingly, it is important to consider that, in recent years, the party system has become more competitive, although turnout has decreased. From the study of the presidential elections in 2000 and 2006, Moreno (2009) concluded that partisan identification, information level, favorable opinions about the candidates, schooling and age were determinants of participation, whereas gender and ideological stances had a more moderate influence. Negative campaigning influenced the reduction of participation in the 2000 election. In turn, voters' attitudes towards democracy and satisfaction with its progress, encouraged them to be much more amenable to voting.

3 For more details, read Coleman (1988, 1990); Verba and Nie (1972); Verba, Schlozman, and Brady (1995); Verba, Nie, and Kim (1978).

4 Read Clarke et al. (2004); Dalton (2005); Norris (2000); Olson (1965); Seyd and Whiteley (1992, 2002); White-ley and Seyd (2002).

5 In practice, however, the two dimensions are highly correlated.

6 Ideology incorporates different political values that can coexist and that can be united by a coherent logic, in the sense that beliefs are thought to go together (Converse, 1964). Ideology provides a benchmark that helps to evaluate various political attitudes, simplifying the process by which citizens develop their political preferences (Sniderman & Bullock, 2004).

7 It is important to remember that the correlation between the two dimensions defined by Schwartz (1992) is very high.

8 Covariate Contribution is an index that represents the composite influence of all of the covariates.


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