Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Blacks are more authority-oriented than other groups: People in more than 40 countries were asked what qualities children should be encouraged to learn at home (World Values Survey). While looking at the numbers I noticed that the two African countries--Nigeria and South Africa--are at the top of the list for obedience, good manners, and religious faith, and are at the bottom for imagination. They also rank number 1 and 2 on the question of whether greater respect for authority would be a good thing. Looking at the General Social Survey, American blacks are also much more likely than whites to feel that learning obedience to parents and good manners is desirable (43% vs. 30% and 46% vs. 23%).

Even though these people live in very different societies, a pattern emerges here of blacks being more oriented toward submission and authority than others. Such an orientation might make it more difficult to know how to act in situations of low social control or with the absence of a hierarchy.


  1. Mark Seecof10:14 AM

    Perhaps those responses are "aspirational."

    That is, Nigeria and South Africa are famously lawless. Plenty of American blacks are lawbreakers. Dismay at those facts might prompt those who answered the survey questions to wish for children to learn obedience, etc. in order to improve society.

    That doesn't mean the respondents themselves are very obedient, or whatever-- nor that their kids will actually learn those things.

  2. South Africa especially, since they have the stark contrast with the well ordered (apartheid) relatively recent past to compare their present situation to. So it wouldn't be surprising that people have a sense of their society falling apart.


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