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Impact of Culture on Acceptance of Soft Drugs Across Europe

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 40 Issue: 4 Dated: July /August 2012 Pages: 296-305
Liqun Cao; Ruohui Zhao
Date Published
August 2012
10 pages
This paper applies Welzel and Inglehart's new human development/modernization theory to explain variation of tolerance in soft-drug taking.
It hypothesizes that tolerance of illegal drugs is linked to the human development and strength of a general cultural axis of nations: survivalism vs. self-expressionism. Data are from the fourth wave of the World Values Surveys and from the United Nations' Human Development Report 2001. Using Hierarchical Generalized Linear Regression (HGLM), this study examines variation of tolerance in soft drugs in 30 European nations with 38,719 respondents. Results support the hypothesis that residents from nations with higher levels of human development and with higher self-expressionist scores are more tolerant of soft drug use than residents in nations with lower human development levels and lower self-expressionist scores. The findings point to the troublesome relationship between cosmopolitan culture characteristic of liberal democracy and soft drug tolerance. As liberal democracy empowers ordinary people with civil and political rights, it also nurtures the growth of human freedom, making it evident in the mass liberty aspiration of self-expressionism and self-management. (Published Abstract)


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