Culture wars: American moral divisions across the adult lifespan
Sociologists have argued that the public moral debate in contemporary America is characterized by a "culture war," pitting "orthodox" and "progressivist" groups against one another (Hunter, 1991). This study addressed whether the culture war is evident in the moral thinking of ordinary Americans, and whether age-related patterns exist. Sixty fundamentalist Baptists (orthodox) and 60 mainline Baptists (progressivist) evaluated and reasoned about moral issues such as divorce and abortion. Each group was divided evenly into three age groups consisting of young, midlife, and older adults. Moral reasoning was analyzed in terms of Shweder's (1990) ethics of autonomy, community, and divinity. Within all three age groups, progressivists used the ethic of autonomy more than orthodox participants. Orthodox participants used the ethic of divinity more than progressivists. Orthodox and progressivist groups did not differ much in their use of the ethic of community. Very few age group differences were found within the orthodox and progressivist groups. It is concluded that morality is conceived of in markedly different ways by orthodox and progressivist groups, and that these conceptions are consistent across age groups. © 1997 Plenum Publishing Corporation.
Journal of Adult Development
Jensen, Lene Arnett, "Culture wars: American moral divisions across the adult lifespan" (1997). Psychology. 852.