Christian Welzel is Professor for Political Culture Research at Leuphana University Lüneburg. He is internationally renowned for his work on value change and its effects on democratic development. Since 2008 he has been Vice President of the World Values Survey Association, and in recent years he has been Special Consultant to the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research at the Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg/Russia. In 2014, Welzel was awarded the Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Social Science Research in acknowledgment of his path-breaking book Freedom Rising: Human Empowerment and the Quest for Emancipation (Cambridge). Alongside recent journal articles on generalised trust, political activism and women's rights, he co-edited with Russell Dalton the 2014 volume The Civic Culture Transformed: From Allegiant to Assertive Citizens (Cambridge). Click here for Professor Welzel's homepage.
This lecture demonstrates that inter-state peace is underpinned by an increasingly solid mass basis: representative survey data from around the world evidence a massive decline in people's willingness to sacrifice their lives in war. To explain this finding, we test and confirm Evolutionary Emancipation Theory (EET). When improving existential conditions in a society turn most people's lives from a source of threats to suffer into a source of opportunities to thrive, people adopt ‘emancipative values': to allow themselves and others to take advantage of life's wider opportunities, people increasingly support and tolerate universal freedoms. This emancipatory trend is most significant where the fixation of traditional survival norms on high fertility erected the strongest resistance against emancipation: reproductive freedoms. As a direct consequence of the emancipatory trend, people's willingness to sacrifice their own and other people's lives in war has dramatically declined. Hence, the emancipatory trend is a pacifist force that makes it increasingly difficult for government - especially in democracies - to find public support for waging wars.