Zeitgeist Effects, Fragmentation of Media Use, and Value Consensus


  • Martti Puohiniemi
  • Markku Verkasalo


Finland changed from an industrial society to an information society in 1991-2015. Due to economic fluctuations, diffusion of digitalization and media turbulence the period changed Finnish society a lot. We studied the impact of this on basic human values with Schwartz’s approach, and concentrated on zeitgeist effects. We developed a definition of zeitgeist effects and a set of hypotheses, based on the literature, to study how major societal changes influence values. Also, we found theoretical similarities between value consensus, democratization and the fragmentation of media use that we analyzed. Data (N = 7.172) were collected in five waves. We measured changes in the ten values, and used the two value dimensions based on factor analysis, also. Moreover, we used the Schwartz value map to illustrate value changes in social groups. The combination of the latter two methods offer a parsimonious way to get an overview of value change over a longer period of time, but single values suit better for the analysis of short-term changes. Our hypotheses received support regarding overall change that is small, as well as regarding zeitgeist effects in the 1990s, the disappearance of them in the new millennium, and how the values of social groups started to change in different directions in the era of social media. The above changes including the disappearance of zeitgeist effects in the new millennium were linked to societal events, e.g. fragmentation of media use. Moreover, we found that in a complex society zeitgeist effects might mirror simultaneous impact of several events.