Drawing on the findings of the three waves of Values studies carried out in Europe in 1990, 1999 and 2008, Abel François proposes an analysis of (essentially Western) Europeans’ economic values on the basis of their perception of the market economy. That perception is measured by three questions relating to competition, ownership of the means of production and incomes, which bring out a relatively positive view, overall, of the market economy (except with regard to income inequalities), but also great divergences between countries and between the various waves of studies.
Abel François then proposes to examine these findings using a combined indicator of the perception of the market economy which aggregates the three basic questions. This enables him to distinguish three groups of countries based on the way the indicator has moved between 1990 and 2008, but it leads him also to downplay the strictly cultural factors underlying these developments. It is, he argues, factors more directly linked to the current economic situation and the economic success of countries (factors he describes as “sociotropic”) and the personal situation of the respondents (“egotropic” factors) that influence the perception of the market economy, with respondents regarding it more favourably when they believe that it brings them personal advantages or is favourable to the community to which they belong.