Decline of Deference

… a core concept used in Policy Analysis and Process and Atlas101

Concept description

Neil Nevitte (reference below) describes the thesis in his book, The Decline of Deference, as “an effort to build a theoretical bridge between “the family” and politics, one that turned to the concept of authority” and that the project “began with the premise that authority orientations are profoundly political and that they permeate primary relations, society and the economy.”

In his revisit of the thesis 25 years later, Nevitte concludes with:

“This investigation has revisited an earlier line of investigation and asked: Do the findings from that earlier project hold up when the scope of the analysis is extended to encompass [World Values Survey] data from a twenty five year period?

“The answer seems to be “yes” in three respects. First, there is now more evidence indicating that authority orientations are indeed coherent and that they operate across domains. There are theoretical reasons to suppose that authority orientations originate in the family setting, and there are some additional empirical data that support that claim. Second, the patterns of change, more particularly, the shifts in authority orientations, have indeed continued along the trajectory that could have been predicted from the patterns evident between 1981 and 1990. Third, these shifts are also consistent in another respect; they are associated with public evaluations of confidence in political institutions and with shifts in protest behaviour.”

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Policy Instruments and Design (core topic) in Policy Analysis and Process and Atlas101 Policy Analysis and Process.


Neill Nevitte (1996), The Decline of Deference: Canadian Value Change in Cross-National Perspective. Peterborough: Broadview Press.

Neill Nevitte (2011), “The Decline of Deference Revisited: Evidence after 25 Years, Notes for presentation at “Mapping and Tracking Global Value Change: A Festschrift Conference for Ronald Inglehart,” University of California, Irvine, March 11 2011, at, accessed 4 September 2018..

Page created by: Alec Wreford and Ian Clark, last modified 4 September 2018.

Image:, at, accessed 4 September 2018.