New book Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris "Rising Tide: Gender equality and Cultural Change" CUP 2003
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Rising Tide

Gender Equality and Cultural Change

Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris

Book published Spring 2003 CUP  240 pages 21 line diagrams 35 tables 3 maps | ISBN: 0521529506 Paperback $21 Hardback $60


Many women experienced growing equality during the twentieth century in education and work, in marriage and the family, and in public life. Yet the force of this ‘rising tide’ has varied among rich and poor societies around the globe, as well as among younger and older generations. 

Rising Tide sets out to understand how modernization has changed cultural attitudes towards gender equality and to analyze the political consequences of this process. The core argument suggests that women and men’s lives have been altered in a two stage modernization process including (i) the shift from agrarian to industrialized societies, reducing fertility rates, bringing women into the paid labor force, and increasing rates of literacy and education and (ii) the move from industrial towards postindustrial societies, generating more substantial gains towards gender equality in the public sphere and workplace. Modernization underpins attitudinal change, although the pace of change is conditioned by the cultural legacy and institutional structure in any given society, including the role of an Islamic heritage and the legacy of Communism. In turn, cultural change lays the basis for the mass mobilization of women’s movements and support for public policies that reinforce, consolidate and accelerate the process of gender equality.

To establish this thesis, the book compares more than seventy nations worldwide, ranging from less-prosperous countries such as India, China, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt to some of the most affluent nations in the world, including Sweden, the United States and Japan. 

After outlining the theoretical framework, the book focuses upon analyzing the four waves of the World Values Surveys covering public opinion from 1981-2001. The book presents the first results of the most recent wave, including some countries never surveyed before by social scientists, such as Iran, Vietnam, Morocco and Zimbabwe. These surveys provide the broadest cross-national data which is currently available, monitoring attitudes towards gender roles in the family, household and workforce; men and women’s civic activism within voluntary organizations, new social movements and political parties; and a wide range of social and political attitudes and values, towards issues such as abortion, homosexuality, prostitution and divorce.

Rising Tide provides the first book systematically comparing the causes and consequences of attitudes towards gender equality across a wide range of nations around the world, including agrarian, industrialized and postindustrial societies.  The scope, range, and coverage means this book will be essential reading for those interested in understanding issues of comparative women and politics, public opinion, political behavior, political development, and political sociology.

Ronald Inglehart is professor of political science and program director at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. 

Pippa Norris is the McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.   


"This is the book that I have been waiting for in comparative gender politics. It advances new theory, tests that theory with the best available data, and raises enough additional questions to inspire a generation of graduate students." Professor W. Clyde Wilcox, Georgetown University

"This book, by two skilled and prolific political scientists, will be widely read by scholars and students interested in gender politics, political culture, political change and modernization, and comparative public opinion and political participation." Virginia Sapiro, University of Wisconsin, Madison

"Rising Tide brings an impressive wealth of evidence to bear on a broad range of timely political debates involving gender equality. It traces the uneven advance of gender equality across states and then offers compelling arguments about both the causes and the consequences of this advance. In so doing, it enlightens us not only about gender but about religion, modernization, voting, and cultural change. Rising Tide is a rare combination of depth and breadth, put together with clarity and skill." Nancy Bermeo, Princeton University




List of Tables and Figures

Part I: The causes of the rising tide

1. Introduction: Explaining the rising tide of gender equality
2. From traditional roles towards gender equality
3. Religion, secularization and gender equality

Part II: The consequences of the rising tide

4. The gender gap in voting and public opinion
5. Political activism

6. Women as political leaders

7.Conclusions: gender equality and development

Select Bibliography

Technical Appendix



Copyright 2004 Pippa Norris, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge MA 02138.

Last updated 12/06/2009