“civicness” in germany and poland

in a post last year, i showed that eastern europeans score very low on “civicness” — i.e. membership in voluntary organizations — at least according to data from the world values survey, 2005-2008. out of the slavic nations, poland (and moldova) scored above the eastern european average, but still well below anglos:

szopeno suggests that this low civic spirit is related to the after effects of living under totalitarian communist regimes:

“In Poland, most of lawyers, doctors, enterpreneurs were executed by nazis, and the rest was killed/deported by soviets. In USSR for generations all those, who were individualistic were executed, escaped to the west etc…. Most never returned…. You have a generations of living in system, were everyone could be your enemy, when you couldn’t talk freely with strangers, when state was your enemy. This had profound effects on psychology….”

i think the first part there — a nation losing its best and brightest — will definitely have a negative effect on society, possibly for quite a few generations. but i don’t really buy that there would be long-lasting effects on a nation’s psyche (unless there are some sorts of epigenetic effects of living in stressful circumstances 24/7 for decades?). i think there’s something deeper going on wrt “civicness.” i have a hard time believing that it’s just a coincidence that regions as diverse as the arab world and eastern europe and spain and italy — all places with a long history of you-know-what — have low scores on civicness. i think there’s something biological going on.

szopeno also suggested that “civicness” might be different in eastern germany than in western since the population in the east was under a totalitarian regime for so long. so, i’ve taken a closer look at “civicness” in west and east germany and in poland.

what i’ve done is taken an average of the percentages replying “belong” (as opposed to “not mentioned”) for the following questions from the world values survey, 1999:

Please look carefully at the following list of voluntary organisations and activities and say…which, if any, do you belong to?

– Social welfare services for elderly, handicapped or deprived people
– Religious or church organisations
– Education, arts, music or cultural activities
– Labor unions
– Political parties or groups
– Local community action on issues like poverty, employment, housing, racial equality
– Third world development or human rights
– Conservation, environment, animal rights groups
– Professional associations
– Youth work (e.g. scouts, guides, youth clubs etc.)
– Sports or recreation
– Women’s groups
– Peace movement
– Voluntary organisations concerned with health
– Other

i’ve used the ’99 survey because it breaks down the responses by region, whereas the later surveys unfortunately do not. for germany and poland, the data are broken down by the sixteen german länder and the sixteen polish voivodeships. the questions are slightly different from the 2005-2008 wave, but some of them are the same. in my previous post, though, i considered “active” members; the 1999 wave options were basically just member or not member.

note that some of the sample sizes for some of the regions are rather small. i should’ve cleaned those out, but didn’t have (make!) the time right now, so consider this post a rough draft!

i’ve plotted the averages against the longitudes of each region (acquired from wikipedia’s geohack) with the idea that both outbreeding and the presence of medieval manorialism (which helped to break down clans and tribes in europe) have a longer history in western europe than in the east, and due to the spread of these practices from west to east across northern europe, i’d expect to find more “civicness” in western europe than in the east, perhaps moving along some sort of gradient from west to east. indeed, i found a negative correlation of 0.76 (-0.76) between membership in a voluntary organization (“civicness”) and longitude (west to east). here is a nifty chart of that (click on image for LARGER version) — the blue squares indicate german länder, the red squares indicate german länder that used to be a part of east germany, and the pink squares indicate polish voivodeships:

so, at least across germany-poland, there is a general west-to-east decrease in civicness.

however, when i checked for correlations between civicness and longitude within each of the countries, while i found a negative 0.66 (-0.66) correlation in germany, there was only a negative 0.39 (-0.39) correlation in poland. so, uncivicness seems to be present across the board in poland, but runs from west-to-east in germany.

hmmmm. those results — less civicness in east germany and across the board in poland — could back up szopeno’s idea of communism’s lingering effects on civic attitudes. maybe he’s right! otoh, manorialism and outbreeding reached eastern germany and poland comparatively late (late medieval period at the earliest for poland) and poland sits astride the hajnal line, so maybe i’m right! (^_^)

never fear! i’ll be looking more at mating patterns and family types in poland (and eastern europe) — and there are other sources on “civicness” in poland to be looked at — so stay tuned!

btw, that blue dot with the 1% (0.93%) average responding that they were members of some sort of voluntary organization? that’s hamburg. the number of samples was on the low side for hamburg, but if the survey results are at all correct, the only “odd” thing i can think of regarding the city is that it is a rather vibrant one. i suspect it might be the low numbers, though. the highest scorer — pretty much as far to the west as you can get in germany — was saarland with nearly one in ten saying that they belonged to some sort of voluntary organization.

and, oh. i also checked for any correlation between “civicness” and latitude. didn’t find anything in germany (-0.39) — but i got an almost perfect uncorrelation for poland (-0.01)! never saw such an uncorrelation before. cool! (^_^)

previously: civic societies and civic societies ii

(note: comments do not require an email. or a membersip in a voluntary organization.)

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32 Comments

  1. I’ve been skimming through the exchange between you and szopeno, and he seems to be raising some interesting points of criticism. Of course, I too find it way too much of a coincidence that all the people that have embraced communism and have low civic spirit are people who have had a particular history (namely, a short-to-non-existent history of outbreeding and living in communal families). Is it an accident that the pattern we’ve seen in Slavic Europe much the same as we see in China?

    Anyways, speaking of West-East differences in Europe, here’s something you might want to see, if you haven’t already: How neighbours turned on each other as anarchy erupted in Europe in aftermath of WWII | Mail Online

    Reply

  2. i think the first part there — a nation losing its best and brightest — will definitely have a negative effect on society, possibly for quite a few generations. but i don’t really buy that there would be long-lasting effects on a nation’s psyche (unless there are some sorts of epigenetic effects of living in stressful circumstances 24/7 for decades?).

    You really have no idea of Eastern Europe and the charnel house that it was post WW2.

    The was a deliberate attempt at “de-bourgeoisation” in communist countries through the physical execution of the middle class stock. Not only that, but the communist economic system encouraged non-alturistic behaviour because of its economic inefficiency. In order to survive, people had to beg, borrow, steal, just to get by. What the communists managed to do was to “culturally” proletise the people and entrench cultural selfishness.

    If you really wanted to compare, you need to compare the Slavs against similar proletised groups in the West, say English Council Estate inhabitants, and then compare altruism levels.

    Middle Class altruism, which is the main type of alturism, is a product of the pre-existing sociocultural capital of a society. It’s a type of capital that was deliberately targeted and destroyed by the Communists. This is why these former countries didn’t revert to their western images after the fall of communism. The bourgeoisie values simply weren’t there.
    Even now, 20 years after the fall of communism, there is hardly any of a “yuppie class” in Eastern Europe.

    This position of yours reminds me a lot of the jokes that used to be said of Eastern European women in the 80’s; Of how they wore garish clothing,make up, and were unattractive. It takes money to look good. And when the money finally arrived they superseded the Anglo women effortlessly. I mean even simple things like sanitary napkins were not considered a priority in the Communist world.

    And here’s a hint. To understand Slav’s in Eastern Europe you’ve got to divide them into two groups, the Orthodox Slav’s and the Rest. This is the main cultural dividing line between the two.

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  3. The numbers all seem very low and they vary too wildly, in my opinion.

    I would wonder if the researchers knew how to properly ask the questions in local diction

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  4. @rjp – “I would wonder if the researchers knew how to properly ask the questions in local diction.”

    all of the world values surveys are conducted by local researchers. you can see all of the technical specs here and here.

    the 1999 survey in poland was headed by a prof. dr. aleksandra jasińska – kania in the institute of sociology at the university of warsaw. and the 1997 surveys in west and east germany was headed by prof dr hans d lingemann @wissenschaftszentrum berlin.

    i’m guessing they both know how to speak their respective native languages. (~_^)

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  5. @jayman – “I’ve been skimming through the exchange between you and szopeno, and he seems to be raising some interesting points of criticism.”

    absolutely! have gotten a lot of good info from szopeno (thnx again, sz!).

    @jayman – “Anyways, speaking of West-East differences in Europe, here’s something you might want to see, if you haven’t already: How neighbours turned on each other as anarchy erupted in Europe in aftermath of WWII | Mail Online”

    i did see that. not for the faint-hearted. =/ a lot of that is just altruistic punishment, isn’t it? — dealing out punishments to those who cooperated or consorted with the enemy. i understand it on a theoretical level, but it still turns my stomach. won’t be judgemental, tho — can’t say how i would behave in a post-war situation (never mind a war situation).

    Reply

  6. @slumlord – “Middle Class altruism, which is the main type of alturism, is a product of the pre-existing sociocultural capital of a society.”

    i think we’re talking about different concepts here. you’re talking about western, middle-class values and behaviors — i’m talking about altruism (and other social behaviors) in the biological sense. iow, not just being kinda nice to your neighbor and unquestioningly loaning her a cup of sugar, but doing something that potentially lowers your fitness.

    what bill hamilton realized is that, although a biologically altruistic act might lower an individual’s fitness, if he directed that act towards someone with whom he shared genes, he could actually increase his fitness — his inclusive fitness.

    what i am interested in is how inbreeding or outbreeding alters this picture. if you are very inbred, it will pay you more fitness-wise to be altruistic towards fellow family members than to unrelated strangers in your society. if you are very outbred, you might be more willing to be altruistic to unrelated folks. i like to think of the inbred groups as having more “familial altruism” vs. the oubred groups as having more “reciprocal altruism.”

    i think that there is a spectrum of societies running from the very outbred/reciprocal altruism practitioners to the very inbred/familial altruism practioners.

    nw europeans (esp. anglos and, perhaps, the dutch) are of the outbred/reciprical altruism kind and they have the highest civicness scores around. arab populations are of the inbred/familial altruism kind and they have the lowest civicness scores around.

    eatern europeans pretty much score as low as the arabs on civicness. the question is why? are they as inbred as the arabs? i don’t think so, but they are much more inbred than nw europeans. i’m working on finding out about their historic mating patterns so i (we, someone!) can figure this all out.

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  7. @slumlord – “The was a deliberate attempt at ‘de-bourgeoisation’ in communist countries through the physical execution of the middle class stock.”

    this can clearly have profound effects on a population. killing off millions of people — especially intellectuals — has GOT to have a huge effect on a population. at least for a couple of generations afterwards. at least.

    however, like i said above, i don’t think it would affect the underlying altruistic (in the biological sense) nature of a population — unless you specifically kill off all of the most altruistic individuals!

    you, i think, are assuming that before wwii there was a middle class in eastern europe that had similar altruistic and other social behavioral patterns as nw europeans (again, particularly anglos). i’m not so sure about that. if that were the case, why weren’t eastern european nations structured more like england? why didn’t the ukranians invent liberal democracy (for what that’s worth)? why was there still feudalism in places like poland and russia into the nineteenth and even twentienth century?

    no. i don’t think there was an outbred middle class — or any other class — in eastern europe before wwii (and still not so much even today, but things are changing, of course — outbreeding is probably more common in eastern europe today). i think these populations are much more inbred than western europeans and it shows in their levels of corruption (and nepotism, i’m guessing) and lack of civicness.

    circumstances also affect peoples’ behaviors, though, i don’t deny that — and i’m sure the cr*ppy economic conditions in most of eastern europe today — in large part due to the former communist regimes there — don’t help in the creation of a more cooperative society.

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  8. @slumlord – “If you really wanted to compare, you need to compare the Slavs against similar proletised groups in the West, say English Council Estate inhabitants….”

    it’s interesting, though, that english coucil estate chavs (the ethnically english ones i mean) band together in “corporate” groups like football club fan groups rather than family-based groups like the italian mafia or the chinese triads. even the english underclasses exhibit the outbred nature of the population.

    Reply

  9. @slumlord – “To understand Slav’s in Eastern Europe you’ve got to divide them into two groups, the Orthodox Slav’s and the Rest. This is the main cultural dividing line between the two.”

    yeah, there’s definitely an east-west divide amongst slavs (interesting in the light of what i said in the post about the spread of manorialism in medieval europe…). i think i’d throw in a third and divide off the slavs in the balkans. a lot of them, esp. those that converted to islam back under the ottomans, seem to be very inbred/clannish to me.

    Reply

  10. @hbd chick
    Thx a lot for you research. You got a lot of free time in your hands :) :) I love to read these entries. I am actually computer science guy, and I stumbled on your site by accident, but it is great to learn more.

    To the point — Think, how your analysis would look like in XVI century. Would you then ask: why liberal ideas, such that a king is legally responsible, were obvious in POland, and books with such ideas were burnt in England? Remember that in Poland and elsewhere we have basically a full stop in XVII century, with a whole country surging deep into sh*t. Now, why this happened, is a different thing and it _may_ have biological fundaments. OTOH, it might not — there are virtuall thousands of things working here.

    As for you analysis of west-east in Poland, remember that whole western strip of Poland was repopulated by mix of Poles. E.g. I came from small town in western Poland — two of my grandparents came from east, two from central Poland (now, this is quite a factor — moving whole population forces a lot of mixing :) ).

    Also, usually in other analysis there is a clear divide between different partitions of Poland (e.g. Prussian, Russian, Austrian) and this may be decisive here too.

    as for @jayman, well, I bet that if Anglos would be closer to Russia, they may end up within communist block and you would then wonder why Anglos are so susceptible to communism. The point is that communism was introduced usually not by benign methods, and was accompanied by fights, in population already tired by 6 years of pretty brutal population. Historically, you have only Russians and maybe Serbs preferring central, authoritative tzar-like governments, and other Slavs preferring quite different things — Czechs have boasted for a long time for their democracy, our traditions is practically anarchy, Ukrainians — love anarchy too. Slovaks, Belarussians have no traditions at all. We have then Bosniaks, Serbs, Macedonians, BUlgars, Czarnogorcy.. and of course, Sorbs (well, how many of them still lives? 10-20 thousands?), and other, smaller groups of Slavs in Italy, Austria, Greece and Turkey :)

    Reply

  11. @szopeno

    “I bet that if Anglos would be closer to Russia, they may end up within communist block and you would then wonder why Anglos are so susceptible to communism.”

    Of course, then in that instance I’d bet that they wouldn’t have been Anglos we know, if you’re feeling me… ;)

    Reply

  12. “The was a deliberate attempt at ‘de-bourgeoisation’ in communist countries through the physical execution of the middle class stock.”

    This factor is really key, and it doesn’t seem easy today to measure how much of E. Europe’s current situation stems from de-bourgeoisation vs. the psychological trauma of living in a Communist society vs. things like in-/out-breeding vs. just plain ethnic character differences.

    You’d think Germany would be a good “laboratory” for this since it was split between the two systems, and the after-effects are plainly visible in the East today. But then I’ve heard that parts of the East are ethnically different from the West, more Slavic. (don’t know if that’s true)

    Also I don’t know if this was the case in E. Europe under Communism, but when you look at North and South Korea today, you figure the malnutrition in the North has to have some serious effects on people’s brains and thus behavior. How long-lasting can those effects be? I’ve even heard Soviet Russia’s unbridled industrial pollution (air, water, etc.) blamed for things like lower sperm counts today, which can have societal effects. There are so many factors at work. The problem with most mainstream analysis of these issues is that they leave out entirely the in-breeding / ethnic character differences. Which is like leaving the meat out of a cheeseburger.

    When are you going to publish in a scientific journal HBD Chick? : )

    Reply

  13. OT: “Chinese are growing up now in a “kin-less” society in which their only blood relatives are ancestors and descendants . . .”

    How will this play out? And of course it’s not just in China.

    Reply

  14. Addendum: Imagine a society in which most individuals are kinless but a few elite individuals are not either because their mother and more than one child or (in the case of China) their father had children by more than one wife, as was traditionally the case.

    Reply

  15. @szopeno – “You got a lot of free time in your hands.”

    (^_^) well, i find neglecting the household chores free up a lot of time. (~_^)

    @szopeno – “I am actually computer science guy, and I stumbled on your site by accident….”

    well, it’s good to have you here! it’s great to get some local knowledge about the different societies i’m rambling on about. (^_^)

    Reply

  16. @szopeno – “Think, how your analysis would look like in XVI century. Would you then ask: why liberal ideas, such that a king is legally responsible….”

    sure, but when the rzeczpospolita szlachecka was established in 1569, the nobles were empowered — and the king held legally responsible — but there was no mentioned of the common man.

    on the other hand, the anglo’s magna carta of 1215, even though it wasn’t implemented successfully right away, guaranteed the rights (certain rights) of all free men, not just the nobles.

    there’s a difference there.

    (for the record, i am not of english descent, so i’m not just favoring my team here. (~_^) my people are a bunch of inbred, un-civic goofs.)

    @szopeno – “As for you analysis of west-east in Poland, remember that whole western strip of Poland was repopulated by mix of Poles.”

    ah ha! that’s interesting. is that a post world war ii thing?

    @szopeno – “Also, usually in other analysis there is a clear divide between different partitions of Poland (e.g. Prussian, Russian, Austrian) and this may be decisive here too.”

    yes, probably. i haven’t worked my head around that aspect of the country’s history yet. (^_^)

    Reply

  17. @jayman – “I have a new blog post up, which basically amounts to a massive shout-out to you (and a few others) ;P.”

    ooo! i’ll be right over to have a look-see. (^_^)

    Reply

  18. @m.g. – “‘The was a deliberate attempt at “de-bourgeoisation” in communist countries through the physical execution of the middle class stock.’

    “This factor is really key, and it doesn’t seem easy today to measure how much of E. Europe’s current situation stems from de-bourgeoisation vs. the psychological trauma of living in a Communist society vs. things like in-/out-breeding vs. just plain ethnic character differences.”

    yes. my impression is that, while eastern europeans are more inbred than nw europeans, they’re not at ALL as inbred as the arabs — so it is odd that their civicness should be as low as that of the arabs. you’d think the volunteering rates for eastern europe should look more like, maybe, italy’s. eastern europe’s recent history must have something to do with it. or, possibly, the toxic effects of pollution, like you say — i wouldn’t rule that out at all. (or else there’s something else none of us have thought of….)

    @m.g. – “When are you going to publish in a scientific journal HBD Chick? : ) “

    probably when sus scrofa takes to the air. (~_^) there’s definitely an e-book in all of this though! (^_^)

    Reply

  19. @luke – “‘Chinese are growing up now in a “kin-less” society in which their only blood relatives are ancestors and descendants . . .”

    yeah, this starts to be a weird situation, doesn’t it?!

    their only blood relatives are not just ancestors or descendants, though, ’cause if they calculate back to a generation in which there was multiple kids, then they should be able to work out who their distant cousins are. in other words, they still might be able to have clans. but will the members of those clans feel strongly towards each other or not? at some point i would think not. i mean, if your closest relatives are your sixth cousins, you might not feel much more strongly about them than your nextdoor neighbor that you’ve never met.

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  20. @bleach – “What’s the ‘other’ that 78% of Bulgarians are involved in? Strange”

    another small sample size: n=4. i should’ve indicated that.

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  21. Repopulation of western Poland — well, basically almost all Poles from former eastern Poland (now Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine) were moved into former eastern Germany. E.g. from my father’s side, the family came from what is now Belarus. From my mother’s side the family came from Greater Poland. This is there is no dialects in western Poland and everyone speaks there standard Polish — since the whole population was mixed.

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  22. @szopeno – “basically almost all Poles from former eastern Poland (now Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine) were moved into former eastern Germany.”

    ah ha! ok. thanks!

    these population movements could account for:

    1) the low civicness scores for east germany if low civicness has something to do with being slavic, even western slavic (that’s still an if, of course);

    2) the similarly low civicness scores found across poland. i thought that there ought to be a general west-to-east pattern of higher-to-lower civicness based on the introduction of manorialism from west-to-east during the medieval period, but if the population of poland has been completely reshuffled in modern times, then that pattern — if it existed at all — would be obscured.

    @szopeno – “This is there is no dialects in western Poland and everyone speaks there standard Polish — since the whole population was mixed.”

    huh! interesting. i didn’t know. thanks again!

    Reply

  23. “however, like i said above, i don’t think it would affect the underlying altruistic (in the biological sense) nature of a population — unless you specifically kill off all of the most altruistic individuals!

    Since industrialization i think there might be class variation in outbreeding from the population average. People in blue-collar neighborhoods are more likely to marry local than the university educated upper middle class. If the average for a population was 0.6 but it varied from 0.7 to 0.5 by class then if the upper 10% portion of the population was wiped out that would nudge the population average down a bit.

    Reply

  24. […] On the other side of the Hajnal line—which in later times became known as the Iron Curtain—a different way of life emerged entirely.  The manor system never caught on with the Slavs.  Christianity also didn’t make into Eastern Europe until much later than it did in the West, and Slavs were inbreeding for much longer than were Germanics on the other side of Europe.  Instead of the manor, the basic unit in Slavic Europe was the zadruga, or the obshchina in Russia.  These were communal dwellings where farm land was evenly divided among all residents, and land and crops were redistributed from the more successful families to the less successful ones.  Yep, sounds a lot like communism; indeed the Russians had essentially invented communism in the middle ages, not during the Bolshevik Revolution!  The adverse conditions in Russia may have favored this type of system, since crop failure was a frequent problem in the harsh Russian winter.  See HBD Chick’s ongoing discussion about mating patterns in Eastern Europe (also here). […]

    Reply

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