Tuesday Seminar – 5 May, 2020


Tuesday May 5, 2020: Ameni Mehrez (CEU). “The Moral Foundations of Liberal and Conservative Parties in Post-Revolution Tunisia.” On Zoom. Contact semra.sevi@umontreal.ca if you would like to join. 12h-13h.

Abstract: Theories of morality have helped political scientists better understand variation in political ideology and voting behavior. Studies show that while conservatives are more likely to endorse values of loyalty, authority, and purity, liberals are more likely to endorse the values of compassion and fairness. While this strand of literature provides evidence that people’s moral judgements shape their views about politics, its findings may not be generalizable across populations. Recent work in cultural psychology (Muthukrishna et al., 2020) has shown systematic differences between WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic) and non-WEIRD populations on important psychological and behavioral variables. In this paper, I introduce my theory about the link between moral values and political ideologies using a historical psychological approach that stands in contrast with Haidt’s and colleagues’ influential work – the Moral Foundations Theory – and I test the predictions of both approaches by looking at an unusual population: Tunisia. A quantitative text analysis is applied to the discourses of the two major parties in post-revolution Tunisia: Ennahda Party (conservative-Islamist) and Nidaa Tounes (liberal-secularist). 100 discourses (for each party) were randomly collected from online sources (TV channels websites, radios, and political parties’ websites). Using a customized dictionary, references to moral values used by the two parties were measured and analyzed. These data show that Ennahda Party scores higher on the care and fairness values than Nidaa Tounes party. These results are partly at odds with the predictions derived from the MFT. Via a semantic network analysis, I provide more evidence for my theory by including historical factors to analyze the link between moral values and political ideologies.

This content has been updated on 6 April 2021 at 8 h 51 min.