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Turning a Page in the history of European Values Research

Published onMay 09, 2022
Turning a Page in the history of European Values Research

1.1 Honouring Mister EVS

This book Reflections on European Values is a Liber Amicorum to honour Loek Halman’s contribution to the European Values Study (EVS). Before we present you with an overview of the contributions in this volume, we will first bring you back to the beginning of the EVS; we will start this itinerary in 1978 and end with present day developments, highlighting the crucial role Loek played all along.

At the end of the 1970s, at a time when European integration was intensifying, a group of scholars witnessed a gradual decline in the dominance of Christianity. From this observation, they were interested in the following substantial questions: (1) Do Europeans share common values? (2) Are values changing in Europe and, if so, in what directions? (3) Do Christian values continue to permeate European life and culture? (4) Is a coherent alternative meaning system replacing Christianity? (5) What are the implications of these developments for European unity? To address these questions, the European Value Systems

Study Group (EVSSG) was founded in 1978; in tandem, a Foundation and a Steering Committee were established. Under the leadership of Ruud de Moor (Tilburg University) and Jan Kerkhofs (KU Leuven), the EVSSG aimed at designing and conducting a ground-breaking empirical study into the moral and social values underlying European social and political institutions.

After intense theoretical and methodological discussions, the first wave was carried out in ten European countries in 1981. All surveyed countries were member states of the then European Community except Greece, yet, the sample included Spain, as well as Norway, Canada, and the US. At this start of what would ultimately become the longest cross-national survey project into moral and social values, there was no sign of Loek Halman in the EVS, as he was still pursuing Master studies, which he completed in the mid-1980s. In 1984, he became the secretary of the Steering Committee (which later turned into the Executive Committee) of EVS. Loek held this position until 2013, after which he became the Chair of the Executive Committee. He held this position until 2020, when he stepped down and Ruud Luijkx was elected to succeed Loek.

Loek’s scholarly interest lay in the study of values, so he was involved in the analysis of EVS data from the first wave onwards. One of his first publications regarded an edited volume on tradition, secularisation, and individualisation in the Netherlands within the European context (Halman, Heunks, De Moor & Zanders, 1987). He defended his doctoral dissertation, supervised by Ruud de Moor and Jacques Hagenaars, in 1991. His dissertation was published (in Dutch) as a monograph Values in the Western World: An International Exploration of Values in Western Society (Halman, 1991). In this study, Loek describes the differences and similarities of several relevant values in the countries surveyed in the first wave of the EVS, fuelling a discussion about Western societies between tradition and modernity. The study also put forward clear positions on the definition of ‘values’, and elaborated on problems when conducting comparative research on this topic. Loek’s PhD dissertation used analysis techniques that were very innovative at the time, such as latent class analysis. Using this technique, Loek, together with Jacques Hagenaars, published results on ideal types in the European Sociological Review (Hagenaars & Halman, 1989).

In the meanwhile, the Steering Committee prepared the second wave of EVS data collection. From the beginning, the idea was to have a survey every ten years. Because the first wave was in 1981 and the second in 1990, this was changed into nine-year intervals; this strategy satisfied the Age-Period-Cohort specialists in the team. The late 1980s was an exciting period in European history with the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall. The collapse of the Soviet Empire offered the opportunity to further extend the geographical coverage of the project to Central and Eastern European countries. The questionnaire of the second EVS wave was more or less a replication of the first wave; the survey was fielded in 27 countries. During this wave of data collection there was close cooperation with Ronald Inglehart. Inglehart organized and coordinated surveys in countries not participating in the EVS. This combined effort generated the World Values Survey (WVS) in the mid-1990s.

After the collection of the second wave of EVS data, Loek wanted to advance the study of Europe’s moral landscape. Together with Peter Ester and Ruud de Moor, he edited a volume on value change in Europe and North America (Ester, Halman & De Moor, 1993). Having two EVS waves completed, this yielded the opportunity to look more into changes over time, but also between cohorts. Numerous publications were written, many of them covering the role of religion in a secularising society (e.g., Halman & Riis, 1999) and individualisation (Halman, 1996).

In the 1990s, EVS expanded further and included 33 countries in the third wave of data collection. The Founding Fathers of the EVS became less active by the end of the 1990s: Ruud de Moor passed away in 2001, Jan Kerkhofs in 2015. Besides being the National Programme Director for the Netherlands, Loek became the Secretary of the EVS Foundation in this period and the Programme Director of EVS fieldwork. In these functions, Loek coordinated the third EVS wave from Tilburg University, in close cooperation with GESIS (Cologne) and the Netherlands Institute for Scientific Information Services (NIWI, now part of DANS). To make the fieldwork of 1999 successful, Loek travelled to all corners of Europe to visit national EVS teams. The questionnaire of this third EVS wave took into account several new topics, including solidarity (e.g., with elderly, disabled, immigrants), social capital (networks, trust, civism), democracy, and work ethos.

The third wave of the EVS generated a lot of scientific output; many books and articles were published. Together with Wil Arts and Jacques Hagenaars, Loek published The Cultural Diversity of European Unity. Findings, Explanations and Reflections from the European Values Study (Arts, Hagenaars & Halman, 2003) which asked the question whether cultural unity or diversity will prevail in Europe. With Wil Arts, Loek wrote European Values at the Turn of the Millennium, responding to questions on cross-national differences and similarities in values (Arts & Halman, 2004). These books were published in the very successful European Values Study book series at Brill Publishers in Leiden. Loek was co-editor of the EVS Series, first together with Wil Arts (2003-2007), and later with Koen van Eijck (2007-2010) and Paul de Graaf (2007-2022), and he was its driving force: along with being the Series co-editor, Loek was (co)editor of no fewer than 13 out of the 18 volumes in the EVS Series.

From this third wave of EVS data onwards, Loek took the initiative to produce an Atlas of European Values as part of the EVS Series. The first one was published in 2005 and presented in the Hague to Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende in the presence of members of the corps diplomatique (Halman, Luijkx & Van Zundert, 2005). The Atlas of European Values summarised the results of the EVS project for a general audience by presenting the values, norms, beliefs, attitudes, and opinions of Europeans at the turn of the millennium through visuals, first and foremost in maps, but also in relevant graphs and charts. The second Atlas of European Values: Trends and Traditions at the Turn of the Century (Halman, Sieben & Van Zundert, 2011), was based on the fourth wave of data collection, and was presented to Luuk van Middelaar, member of the Cabinet of Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council. The most recent Atlas of European Values: Change and Continuity in Turbulent Times (Halman, Reeskens, Sieben & Van Zundert, 2022) is based on the fifth and last wave of data collection and is introduced at the European Values Conference 2022 in Brussels.

Another important initiative that was initiated from the third EVS wave onwards, was the publication of sourcebooks. These sourcebooks are of great value to policy makers and journalists, because they give easy albeit basic access to the data. After a sourcebook for the third wave (Halman, 2001), there were also sourcebooks jointly with WVS: one concerned the EVS and WVS surveys around 2000 (Inglehart, Basáñez, Díez-Medrano & Halman, 2004), the other displayed trends based on the value surveys since 1981 (Halman, Inglehart, Díez-Medrano, Luijkx, Moreno & Basáñez, 2008). After the fourth wave, a sourcebook was published of the trends within EVS from wave 1 to 4 (Luijkx, Halman, Sieben, Brislinger & Quandt, 2017).

The fieldwork for the fourth EVS wave was initiated in 2008. To allow for the study of over-time changes, the questionnaire was largely identical to the one of the third wave. New quality improvements in sampling and translation were reached. In the meanwhile, Paul de Graaf took over as Chair of the EVS Executive Committee, with Loek as Secretary. Loek was very active in fundraising for the fourth wave and with great success. In the end the survey was fielded in 47 countries, making EVS the survey par excellence with the largest geographical coverage in Europe. Besides the already mentioned Atlas of European Values, two important publications were co-authored by Loek. With Wil Arts, Loek edited the volume Value Contrasts and Consensus in Present-Day Europe (Arts & Halman, 2014) on cross-national differences and similarities in values across Europe, aimed at an international audience. For a local audience, Loek and Inge Sieben published the book Respect Man! (Halman & Sieben, 2011), for which they invited several colleagues to discuss values in the Netherlands.

At the EVS meeting in Bar (Montenegro) in 2013, new officials were elected: Loek became the Chair of the Executive Committee, Malina Voicu the Secretary (later followed-up by Vera Lomazzi), David Voas the Chair of the Theory Group, and Ruud Luijkx the Chair of the Methodology Groups. The process of creating the questionnaire and preparing the fieldwork for the fifth wave started during this meeting. Many meetings of the General Assembly, the Executive Committee, the Theory Group and the Methodology Group followed in Milan, Bilbao, Vienna, Warsaw, Athens, Cologne, Ljubljana, and Tblisi, always under the inspiring leadership of Loek. Actually, there is a story to tell about these meetings. The authors of this introductory chapter in Loek’s Liber Amicorum know Loek as a quiet and somewhat introverted person. While going on these international journeys, a kind of transformation happened to him in the airplane. When landing approached, he would insert his earplugs, troubled by the changing air pressure. Upon arrival at these international destinations, Loek was transformed into Mister EVS: excitedly and in a hurry, he ran off the airplane, eager to explore the visiting country and ready to see his friends and colleagues of EVS. At the same time, he preferred very early breakfasts, so as not to be confronted with EVS questions and issues too early in the morning.

At this very moment, the fieldwork of the fifth wave of the EVS is concluded. Again, a lot of effort was put in by Loek and the EVS Foundation to raise money for fieldwork in those countries where no funds were available. There was success, but the amount raised this time was not enough to cover the whole of Europe and the number of countries in the final dataset will most likely be 39. The first version of the integrated data file contains most countries and is publicly available, already leading to a number of country studies (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic and Slovakia, Denmark, France, Italy, Poland, Netherlands, and Spain). Loek and the Executive Committee strengthened the ties with WVS in the prelude to this wave. This led to a very close cooperation, where EVS took the lead in Europe, and WVS in the rest of the world. In the questionnaires, there was a common core for both WVS and EVS data collections. Results of their fieldwork are available as Joint EVS/WVS 2017-2021 Dataset.

The comparative study of values, using the EVS waves, was also the core of Loek Halman’s teaching activities at Tilburg University. He passed on his passion to combine both theoretical and empirical value research to future generations, as students had to write scientific papers using EVS data in his courses on Values in Europe (Bachelor’s programme in sociology), National and Regional Identities (Bachelor’s and Premaster’s programme in Sociology, together with

Arnoud-Jan Bijsterveld) and in the course Learning Project: Values and Civil Society in Europe (Bachelor’s programme in the major social sciences of Liberal Arts and Sciences, together with Paul Dekker). In addition, he supervised theses of numerous students in the Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in Sociology, as well as from Liberal Arts and Sciences, and was the organizer of the December Student Research Symposium, where students presented their work. In this way, he introduced several cohorts of students to the work of EVS and its scholars.

Loek retired from Tilburg University in September 2021. Anticipating this major moment in his professional life, Loek decided to step down from the Executive Committee in October 2020 and from the EVS Foundation in the summer of 2021. The European Values Study is preparing for its sixth wave of data collection taking place in 2026, as well as future horizons for values research. Present days are exciting and worrying times with outside threats, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. To maintain a long-term comparative survey programme such as EVS requires vision and intensive cooperation with many partners inside and outside the EVS. The EVS community is grateful for the way Loek shaped all this in the last decades and we will continue his work in the future.


1.2 Outline of this Volume

For this Liber Amicorum, a ‘book of friends’, we invited two groups of colleagues to write a contribution. On the one hand, we approached several EVS National Programme Directors (NPD). Having been the Secretary, and later the Chair of the Executive Committee of the EVS, Loek established and maintained solid relationships with these NPDs throughout the years. On the other hand, we got in touch with current and former colleagues, co-authors, and compagnons de route of Loek Halman. These scholars either have been inspired by the work of Loek, or inspired Loek by joint work on the study of relevant moral and social values, attitudes or behaviour, often in a comparative perspective. The fact that this volume combines 31 different chapters underscores how well-respected and loved Loek was and is among his peers.

We asked the authors to write a chapter of approximately 3,000 words each. Even though we did not impose topical restrictions to authors, evidently, the only demand was to relate to the EVS in whatever way possible. The result is this monograph that can be summarized in the motto of the European Union “United in Diversity”. This motto was frequently used by Loek to reflect upon findings from the EVS to describe values similarities and differences across European countries. To provide coherence in this book, we have grouped the chapters in five themes that also reflect Loek’s research interests, namely theoretical and methodological reflections on the European Values Study, chapters on the sociology of religion, comparative studies, studies on the Netherlands, and additional country case studies.

The section Theoretical and Methodological Reflections on the European Values Study is kicked off by Wil Arts (Chapter 2). In his contribution, Arts reflects on the use of grand theories vis-a-vis partial middle-range theories to explain value differences and values change. Georgy Fotev (Chapter 3) dedicates his chapter to the relevance of values in current turbulent times. He shows that value prioritisation is a valid way of managing tensions between values. To make the transition from theory to empirical research, Ole Preben Riis (Chapter 4) discusses common limitations inherent in the use of social surveys for social science research, including the coverage of the sample frame, the extent to which interviews can be leading, and the diagnosis that abstract concepts are not always easy to measure using standardized questionnaires. Ruud Luijkx, Angelica Maineri and Giovanni Borghesan (Chapter 5) present an overview of the EVS fieldwork over time. The authors review the coverage of countries, innovations in methodology used, and look ahead to the next wave of data collection in 2026. From their year-long experience as members of, respectively, the EVS Methods and Theory Groups, Dominique Joye and Christof Wolf (Chapter 6) discuss the challenges that the EVS is facing, thereby reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of the EVS in comparison to other cross-national research projects, including the European Social Survey and the International Social Survey Programme. Continuing on methodological reflections is Pierre Bréchon’s contribution (Chapter 7), which shines a light on the changes in EVS questions over time: as is well known, some items in the EVS have known a long history, while some items are very recent. The choice of items, as Bréchon argues, reflects societal transformations, political agendas, and strategies among EVS scholars. The final methodological chapter is written by John Gelissen (Chapter 8) and reviews limitations in the use of country averages of values if these averages do not account for variation within countries.

The second section of this book are contributions on the Sociology of Religion. The sizeable number of submissions on this topic not only relates to the topical interest of the EVS community, but also reflects Loek Halman’s theoretical approach into the cross-national study of values using the EVS. One of the main theoretical models is the secularisation thesis, which forms the theoretical basis in the contribution by María Silvestre Cabrera, Edurne Bartolomé Peral, and Javier Elzo Imaz (Chapter 9). The authors demonstrate that in Spain, the process of secularisation is discernible, albeit with clear differences in this process among different sociodemographic groups. Studying the Irish case, Michael Breen and Ross Macmillan (Chapter 10) show a gradual decline in religiosity between 1981 to the COVID-19 era. This volume then proceeds with some underlying mechanisms for the secularisation thesis. David Voas and Ingrid Storm (Chapter 11) write on religious socialisation by parents. While they find that  individuals who see religion as important are more committed to religious socialisation, they do not find different effects between more secular or more religious countries. Related to the study of socialisation is the interest of Dénes Kiss, Gergely Rosta and Bogdan Voicu (Chapter 12) in the religiosity of the Hungarian minority in the Romanian region of Transylvania. The authors show that the Hungarian minority resembles Romanian society more than the Hungarian one. Continuing on the study of socialisation of values, Inge Sieben and Katya Ivanova (Chapter 13) assess the extent to which religiosity plays a role in parental values, departing from the question whether religious people value obedience more and autonomy less in the upbringing of children. Koen Abts and Bart Meuleman (Chapter 14) focus on trust in the Church in Belgium. Applying an innovative panel design based on the fourth wave of the EVS, they show that the handling of the child abuse cases has eroded trust in the Church among churchgoers. Further expanding on trust in the Church, Gudbjorg Andrea Jonsdottir, Inga Run Saemundsdottir, and Gudny Bergthora Tryggvadottir (Chapter 15) demonstrate that in Iceland, a continuous decline in trust in the Church explains a rise of the so-called ‘nones’: people who do not belong to any religious denomination. In two contributions, the link between religion and out-group attitudes is investigated. First, Peter Achterberg and Christof van Mol (Chapter 16) study whether religious Europeans or the so-called ‘religious nones’ are more tolerant towards immigrants. They observe that although tolerance is higher in secularised societies, the non-religious are less tolerant towards immigrants in secular countries. Second, Yilmaz Esmer (Chapter 17) asks the question whether religiosity is related to populist attitudes. Based on a scale that taps into feelings of institutional distrust and apathy towards outgroups, Esmer argues that adherents of Islam display more populist attitudes than Protestants.

The third section of this volume deals with Comparative Studies into European Values. Loek has extensively studied values in cross-national perspective, justifying this distinct section in his Liber Amicorum. A first contribution in this section is written by Guy Moors (Chapter 18), who replicates his earlier work on the Second Demographic Transition using most recent EVS data. Moors shows that differences in young people’s living arrangements re-emerge in the generation surveyed in 2017. Vera Lomazzi (Chapter 19) studies whether the measurement of gender equality attitudes in the European Values Study passes cross-national validity. After finding confirmation for equivalent measurement, Lomazzi shows that gender attitudes are firmly embedded in cultural traditions. Subsequently, Alice Ramos and Jorge Vala (Chapter 20) question whether childrearing values are related to socioeconomic development and social inequality. They demonstrate that autonomy is valued more while authoritarianism is valued less in wealthy societies. Bogdan Voicu (Chapter 21) focuses on the subjective importance of work, as he notices a decreased salience of it over time. He shows that the host society has a strong imprint on the importance of work among immigrants. In their chapter, Ioana Pop and Caroline Dewilde (Chapter 22) replicate earlier research on income inequality and the acceptance of corrupt acts, combining several EVS waves. They show that although changes in income inequality do not explain justifying corruption, persistent differences across European countries in the acceptance of corrupt acts exist. Ruud Muffels (Chapter 23) also touches upon the consequences of living in unequal societies, as well as the relevance of values in explaining subjective wellbeing. He shows that subjective wellbeing is higher in countries where people have trust in each other, and where intrinsic work values are high and extrinsic work values are low. Last but not least, in one of the few contributions that focus on behaviour instead of values or attitudes, Paul Dekker and Andries van den Broek (Chapter 24) study generational differences in protest behaviour. The authors show that a normalisation in protest proneness is taking place, i.e., political protest is no longer a prerogative of the young, but occurs across the entire life-span.

A fourth section of this book concerns Research on Values in the Netherlands and is an introduction to the other national case studies. Even though this section is not sizeable, we are of the opinion that the Netherlands deserves a special spot in this volume, because Loek for a long time was the National Programme Director for the European Values Study Netherlands and advanced the study of values in the Netherlands. Erwin Gielens and Quita Muis (Chapter 25) question the extent to which some value orientations have shifted drastically, while others have remained rather stable. An analysis of Dutch longitudinal EVS data shows that while conservatism and religiosity have declined, there is a stronger priority of materialist value orientations. In relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tim Reeskens and Arnoud-Jan Bijsterveld (Chapter 26) study justifying casual sex before and during the coronavirus crisis. Their analysis shows that people concerned by the virus are justifying casual sex less compared to those not concerned about COVID-19. In the last chapter on the Netherlands, Wim van Oorschot, Erwin Gielens, and Femke Roosma (Chapter 27) study changes in the conditionality of solidarity. They show that conditionality is higher in 2008, when economic uncertainty was at its highest.

The fifth and final section involves Values Insights from National Case Studies, emphasizing Loek’s continuous endeavour to reach out to many European countries for a detailed moral landscape of Europe. This section is initiated by two studies on Nordic Exceptionalism. First, Susanne Wallman Lundåsen (Chapter 28) focuses on the development of social trust in the Nordic countries, showing that trust increases in response to educational expansion and well-functioning governmental institutions. Second, Morten Frederiksen and Peter Gundelach (Chapter 29) zoom in on Denmark by asking whether Danish values are special. The authors review the Denmark Canon and use the EVS to inquire whether the values represented in this Canon are unique to Denmark – spoiler alert: the answer is no. We continue our European journey to the south of Europe. Penny Panagiotopoulou, Aikaterini Gari and Anastassios Emvalotis (Chapter 30) study changes between 2008 and 2019 in values related to family and marriage in Greece. Their study shows the continuous importance of the family and faithfulness in marriage among Greek respondents. In a chapter on Macedonia, Mihajlo Popovski, Antoanela Petkovska, Ilo Trajkovski and Konstantin Minoski (Chapter 31) look at gender role attitudes. The authors uncover that variations in gender role attitudes among Macedonians reveal a gradual replacement of traditional values by more modern ones. A similar conclusion is made in Josip Baloban’s contribution (Chapter 32), which concerns the transformation of values in Croatia. Combining theoretical reflections and empirical evidence, Baloban shows that Croatia is moving towards post-modernisation.


1.3 Some Final Remarks

This Liber Amicorum to honour Loek Halman’s legacy at and contribution to the European Values Study also marks some transitions ongoing in the wider EVS project. One of the changes is that this ‘book of friends’ is being published by Open Press TiU. This edited volume is, after the Atlas of European Values: Change and Continuity in Turbulent Times, the second publication in the European Values Series that is published in an Open Access format, thereby having the potential to reach more audiences, both scholarly and outside academia, interested in European values, than ever before. In this transition to an Open Access format, we would like to thank Daan Rutten from Open Press TiU for his enthusiasm to prepare and guide us in this journey of Open Access publishing. We are also indebted to Joep Cleven in the assistance of copyediting the submitted chapters, as well to Lori Lenssinck to facilitate the design of the new European Values Series. Last but not least, we thank the European Values Study Foundation and the Department of Sociology at Tilburg University for the financial support to make this Liber Amicorum possible.


List of References

Arts, W., Hagenaars, J., & Halman. L. (2003). The Cultural Diversity of European Unity. Findings, Explanations and Reflections from the European Values Study. Leiden: Brill.

Arts, W., & Halman, L. (2004). European Values at the Turn of the Millennium. Leiden: Brill.

Arts, W., & Halman, L. (2014). Value Contrasts and Consensus in Present-Day Europe. Leiden: Brill

Ester, P., Halman, L., & De Moor, R. (1993). The Individualizing Society. Value Change in Europe and North America. Tilburg: Tilburg University Press.

Hagenaars, J., & Halman, L. (1989). Searching for Ideal Types: The Potentialities of Latent Class Analysis. European Sociological Review, 5(1), 81-96.

Halman, L. (1991). Waarden in de Westerse wereld. Een internationale exploratie van de waarden in de Westerse samenleving. [Values in the Western World: An International Exploration of Values in Western Society] Tilburg: Tilburg University Press.

Halman, L. (1996). Individualism in Individualized Society? International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 37(3-4), 196-214.

Halman, L. (2001). The European Values Study: A Third Wave. Tilburg: WORC.

Halman, L., Heunks, F., De Moor, R., & Zanders, H. (1987). Traditie, secularisatie en individualisering. Een onderzoek naar de waarden van de Nederlanders in een Europese context. Tilburg: Tilburg University Press.

Halman, L., Inglehart, R., Díez-Medrano,J., Luijkx, R., Moreno, A., & Basáñez, M. (2008). Changing Values and Beliefs in 85 countries. Trends from the Values Surveys from 1981 to 2004. Leiden: Brill.

Halman, L., Luijkx, R., & Van Zundert, M. (2005). Atlas of European Values. Leiden: Brill.

Halman, L., & Riis, O. (1999). Religion in a Secularizing Society. The European’s Religion at the End of the 20th Century. Tilburg: Tilburg University Press.

Halman, L., Reeskens, T. Sieben, I., & Van Zundert, M. (2022). Atlas of European Values: Change and Continuity in Turbulent Times. Tilburg: Open Press TiU.

Halman, L., & Sieben, I. (2011). Respect man! Tolerantie, solidariteit en andere moderne waarden. [Respect, Man! Tolerance, Solidarity and Other Modern Values]. Amersfoort: Celsus.

Halman, L., Sieben, I., & Van Zundert, M. (2011). Atlas of European Values: Trends and Traditions at the turn of the Century. Leiden: Brill.

Inglehart, R., Basáñez, M., Díez-Medrano, & Halman L. (2004). Human Beliefs and Values. A Cross-Cultural Sourcebook Based on the 1999-2002 Values Surveys. Mexico City: Siglo XXI

Luijkx, R., Halman, L., Sieben, I., Brislinger, E., & Quandt, M. (2017). European Values in Numbers: Trends and Traditions at the Turn of the Century. Leiden: Brill.

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