Stellenbosch University | Political Science


Centre for International & Comparative Politics

The World Values Survey
Principal Investigator: Prof Hennie Kotzé

The World Values Survey (WVS) is a worldwide network of social scientists studying changing values and their impact on social and political life. The WVS in collaboration with EVS (European Values Study) carried out representative national surveys in 97 societies containing almost 90 percent of the world’s population. These surveys show pervasive changes in what people want out of life and what they believe. In order to monitor these changes, the EVS/WVS has executed six waves of surveys, from 1981 to 2013.

Building a global network of social scientists

The World Values Survey group works with leading social scientists, recruited from each society studied. This makes it possible to draw on the insights of well-informed insiders in interpreting the findings. It also helps disseminate social science techniques to new countries. The data from all societies are made available to all participants, who work together in analyzing an interpreting the results and in disseminating the findings through international conferences and joint publications.

Providing a global resource

The WVS is the only source of empirical data on people’s beliefs and values covering a majority of the world’s population. This data have been used in thousands of scholarly publications and the findings have been reported in leading media such as Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Economist, the World Development Report and the UN Human Development Report. The WVS data have been made available free of charge on the WVS website (, they have been downloaded by thousands of researchers, journalists, policy-makers and others interested in global cultural change. The data and insights produced by the WVS help one to understand the role of human values and beliefs in societal change. These insights are valuable for social scientists seeking to understand social change, and they are essential for policy-makers seeking to build civil society and democratic institutions in developing countries.

Field work

All interviews are conducted face to face by a local field organization and are supervised by academic researchers. Random probability samples are aimed for where possible. In each country the PI (Principal Investigator) is responsible for conducting the survey in accordance with fixed rules and procedures. Use of the core questionnaire translated into the local language, is mandatory. The sampling and documentation procedures must be accepted by the WVS Executive Committee (EC) before data collection starts. During the fieldwork the agency has to report in writing according to a specific checklist. Internal consistency checks are made between the sampling design and the outcome and rigorous data-cleaning procedures are followed at the WVS data archive. No country is included in a wave before full documentation has been delivered.

Importance and benefit of this research

Maybe the most important product of this ongoing project is the insight it produces concerning the changes at the individual level that are transforming social, economic and political life. These changes are invisible until they are measured and analyzed through survey research, which has only recently begun to address them. They are still inadequately understood. The World Values Survey is monitoring these changes and helps charting their trajectory in societies around the world, providing information that will help national and international decision-makers to better understand and cope with these changes.

The focus within WVS has for many years been on reports and material related to questions concerning differences in values and beliefs; democracy, gender and secularization, views on the UN millennium development goals and differences and similarities between regions and nations.

A new phase in our work has begun in which the emphasis is on effectuated measures promoting dialogue in these matters – not only between different groups within a nation, but also between nations and on a global level, with respect for both cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Our aim is to support the development work taking place in civil society in those areas where the UN and other international peace and development organizations are active. The purpose is also to counteract processes that can lead to an undesired development of the common values within a region or nation.

Our work with values requires a very thorough analysis of the complex different values within a society or region. These data can be used for setting goals for development that can be measured and monitored over time. With this kind of approach our efforts become more precise and, as a consequence, more efficient.

Click here to visit the WVS working paper series


Publications relating to the Opinion Leader (Elite) Study and/or World Values Survey since 2000:

Steenekamp, C.L., P du Toit & HJ Kotzé. 2015. Social Norms in the Wake of the Global Financial Crisis. Taiwan Journal of Democracy, 11(1): 111-127.

Du Toit, P. and Kotzé, H.J. 2011. Liberal Democracy and Peace in South Africa: The Pursuit for Freedom as Dignity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN: 978-0-230-10888-2.

Kotzé, HJ. 2011. Confidence in institutions: A cross-national comparison of political elite and public opinion. Politeia, 30(2): 25-46.

Kotzé, H.J. and du Toit, P. 2010. “Civic tolerance and religiosity: Elites and publics compared”. In Van Beek, U. (ed). Democracy under Construction: Elites, Citizens, Cultures. Opladen and Farmington Hills: Barbara Budrich Publishers. (pp.241-262).

Kotzé, H.J. 2009. “Tracking the Pulse of the People: 25 Years of Value Change in South Africa, 1981 – 2006”, in Esmer, Y. Klingemann, H-D. and Puranen, B. (eds). Religion, Democratic Values and Political Conflict. Uppsala Universitet: Sweden.

Kotzé, H.J. and Garcia-Rivero, C. 2009. “Islam and Democracy: Arab Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa Compared”, in Esmer, Y. and Pettersson, T. (eds). The International System, Democracy and Values. Uppsala Universitet: Sweden.

Kotzé, H.J. and Steenekamp, C.L. 2009. Values and Democracy in South Africa: Comparing Elite and Public Values. Johannesburg: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. (ISBN: 978-0-620-43174-3).

Kotzé, H.J. and Steenekamp, C.L. 2008. The Consolidation of Democracy in South Africa: Comparing Elite and Public Values. Policy Paper 5. Johannesburg: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

Kotzé, H.J. 2008. “The Constant of Transformation: Eleven Years of Value Change in South Africa, 1990 – 2001”, in Petterson, T. and Esmer, Y. (eds). Changing Values, Persisting Cultures: Case Studies in Value Change. Brill: Leiden.

Kotzé, H.J. and Garcia Rivero, C. 2008. Opposition Party Support in Africa: An Elite-Mass Analysis, in Government and Opposition. 43(3): 454 – 485.

Erasmus, J.C. and Kotzé, H.J. 2007. “Has Religious Affiliation Changed in the New South Africa?” in South African Christian Handbook 2007-2008. Bloemfontein: Handisa. (95-102).

Erasmus, J.C. and Kotzé, H.J. 2007. “Religious Service Attendance in the New South Africa?” in South African Christian Handbook 2007-2008. Bloemfontein: Handisa. (103-109).

Garcia Rivero, C. and Kotzé, H.J. 2007. Electoral Support for Islamic Parties in the Middle East and North Africa, in Party Politics. 13(5): 611-636.

Gouws, A. and Kotzé, H.J. 2007. Women in Leadership Positions in South Africa: The Role of Values, in Politikon. 34(2): 165-185.

Kotzé, H.J. 2007. African Elites, Nepad and Institutional Confidence: Findings from a Seven Nation Survey, in Acta Politica. 42(1): 58 – 97.

Kotzé, H.J. and Garcia Rivero, C. 2006. Democracy and Islam in the Arab World: Lessons from Algeria, in Comparative Sociology. 5(4): 327-352.

Kotzé, H.J. and du Toit, P. 2005. “Civil Society and Democracy”, in van Beek, U.J. (ed.) Democracy Under Construction: Patterns from Four Continents. Bloomfield Hills and Opladen: Barbara Budrich Publishers. (243 – 258).

Kotzé, H.J. and du Toit, P. 2005. “Civil Society: Historical Contexts”, in van Beek, U.J. (ed.) Democracy Under Construction: Patterns from Four Continents. Bloomfield Hills and Opladen: Barbara Budrich Publishers. (259 – 304).

Kotzé, H.J. and du Toit, P. 2005. “Civil Society: Data Analyses, Comparisons and Synthesis”, in van Beek, U.J. (ed.) Democracy Under Construction: Patterns from Four Continents. Bloomfield Hills and Opladen: Barbara Budrich Publishers. (305 – 334).

Kotzé, H.J. and Steyn, C. 2004. Work Values and Transformation: The South African Case, 1990-2001, in Society in Transformation. 35(1): 145 – 164.

Kotzé, H.J. and Steyn, C. 2004. Work value change in South Africa between 1995 and 2001: Race, gender and occupations compared, in South African Journal of Labour Relations. Autumn: 4 – 33.

Kotzé, H.J. and Steyn, C. 2003. African Elite Perspectives: AU and NEPAD. A Comparative Study across Seven African Countries. Johannesburg: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. (ISBN: 0-620-31460-5).

Garcia Rivero, C., Kotzé, H.J. and du Toit, P. 2003. Tracking the Development of the Middle Class in Democratic South Africa, in Politeia. 22(3): 6 – 29.

Kotzé, H.J. 2003. Mass and elite attitudes towards the criminal justice system in South Africa: How congruent?, in South African Journal of Criminal Justice. 16(1): 38 – 57.

Du Toit, P., Kotzé, H.J. and Garcia Rivero, C. 2002. “Political culture and democracy: the South African case”, in Politikon. 29(2): 163-182.

Kotzé, H.J. and Lombard, K. 2002. “Revising the value shift hypothesis: a descriptive analysis of South Africa’s value priorities between 1990 and 2001”, in Comparative Sociology. 1(3-4): 413-437.

Kotzé, H.J. and Masutha, R.J. 2002. “Tracking elite opinions on political corruption in South Africa, 1995-2000”, in Politeia. 21(1): 5-24.

Kotzé, H.J. 2001. Elite Perspectives on Policy Issues on South Africa. Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University. (ISBN: 0-7972-0890-9).

Kotzé, H.J. 2001. “The evaluation of government”, in Klandermans, B. et al (eds.). The State of the People: Citizens, Civil Society and Governance in South Africa, 1994-2000. Pretoria: HSRC. (137 – 184).

Kotzé, H.J. 2001. “A consummation devoutly to be wished. The Democratic Alliance and its potential constituencies”, in Democratization. 8(1): 117-134.

Kotzé, H.J. 2001. “Institutionalising parliament in South Africa: the challenges to parliamentary leadership”, in Acta Academica. 33(1): 20-44

Kotzé, H.J. 2001. “Unconventional Political Participation and Political Confidence in South Africa: A longitudinal analysis using data from the World Values Survey”, in Social Dynamics. 27(2): 1-22.

Kotzé, H.J. 2000. “An analysis of the value patterns of South African elites on selected moral issues”, in Scriptura. 75: 421-436.

Kotzé, H.J. 2000. “Backbenchers’ backgrounds and the perceptions in the South African Parliament” in Politeia. 19(1): 47-66

Kotzé, H.J. 2000. “Shared values in South Africa: A selection of value orientations in the field of personal ethics” in Scriptura. 75: 437-448.

Kotzé, H.J. 2000. “The state and social change in South Africa”, in International Social Science Journal. 52(1): 79-94

Useful links

World Values Survey website:
European Values Study website:
African Elite Perspectives:
IPSOS-Markinor website:
Stellenbosch University website:

Sponsors of the Opinion-Leader (Elite) and/or World Values Survey

Open Society Foundation – South Africa:
National Business Initiative (NBI):
South African Breweries Ltd:
National Research Foundation:
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung:
Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation: