British Journal of Political Science

Research Article

Postmaterialism, Cognitive Mobilization and Public Support for European Integration

Joseph I. H. Janssen*

This article reviews the trends in public support for European integration in West Germany, France, Italy and Great Britain. The first conclusion is that the picture one gets depends heavily on the indicator one uses to measure support. This finding is probably a consequence of the fact that many people are only dimly aware of the issue. Furthermore, it appears that there are striking cross-national differences in support and in the development of support through time. To explain these differences, as well as the formation of individual attitudes towards integration, Inglehart's theory of the Silent Revolution is used. The theory and its central concepts – postmaterialism and cognitive mobilization – are put on trial at three levels of aggregation. The results are poor. Postmaterialism appears to be unrelated to attitudes towards European integration, while the concept of cognitive mobilization makes sense only at the individual level. The conclusion is therefore that Inglehart's theory is of almost no use in explaining attitudes towards integration and cross-national differences in support.


* Department of Political Science, Faculty of Policy Studies, Catholic University Nijmegen, The Netherlands. This research is supported by grant 430–221–006 of the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research (NWO). I am indebted to Jan van Deth and Bob Lieshout for their comments on earlier drafts.