Tolerance towards Homosexuality in Argentina

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2011

15 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Content


Theoretical framework


Differences between groups





This essay investigates tolerance towards homosexuals in Argentina in 1995[1]. It addresses the following questions: “How prevalent is tolerance towards homosexuality in Argentina?” and “Are there any differences between specific groups of society?”, which will be examined regarding age, education and religious practice.

Tolerance is one aspect of self-expression values as part of the value change explained by Inglehart. Therefore the broader aim of this paper is to display how prevalent self-expression values are in Argentina as a transitory and deeply Catholic country.

First, I will explain the theoretical framework, define the term tolerance as it is used here and explain the concept of value change and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Furthermore I will formulate my expectations about the results of my research with data from the World Values Survey. I will then specify which items I used, before displaying the empirical results and drawing a conclusion.

Theoretical framework

Before analyzing tolerance towards homosexuals in Argentina, the term tolerance as it is used here should be defined. According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language tolerance means “the capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others” (The American heritage dictionary of the English language,

According to Ronald Inglehart there has been a value change over the past decades from traditional, materialist values to post-materialist values or self-expression values.

At the basis of this value change are two major assumptions about the causes. The first one claims that we adapt our values to our socio-economic situation, placing personal priority on whatever is in relatively short supply. The second key factor for value change is generational replacement. As our values largely depend on the conditions during our childhood, they differ between generations (Inglehart, 1977).

Closely connected to this concept is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow divides human needs into different categories, arranged in a pyramid and ascribes them to two broader types: deficiency needs, addressed in response to deficit and growth needs, attended to in response to desire.

Fig. 1.1 Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

illustration not visible in this excerpt


Maslow assumes that humans first address the lower part of the pyramid, meaning the deficiency needs, and only when those are satisfied they turn their attention to the self-actualization needs (Maslow, 1954, cited in Inglehart, 1977).

It is in this category where we find the terms “lack of prejudice” and “morality”, which both imply tolerance.

Based on these theories I would expect the following regarding tolerance towards homosexuals in Argentina:

1. Still being a transitory country, tolerance towards homosexuality should generally not be very pronounced.
2. Since older people generally hold more traditional values and the socio-economic conditions were probably worse some decades ago, tolerance towards homosexuals should be lower among older generations.
3. Along with Inglehart’s claim that values depend on one’s socio-economic environment and Maslow’s assumption that self-actualization needs are addressed only once the deficiency needs are satisfied, tolerance should be lower among people with a lower education, since that usually means a lower socio-economic status as well.
4. Lastly, tolerance should be lower among very religious people. Ideological institutions such as the Catholic Church play an important role when it comes to values since they are the ones that convey specific values within their worldview. In the case of the Catholic Church, this involves an aversive view on homosexuality.


In order to find out about attitudes towards homosexuality I looked at four different items from the World Values Survey: “least liked group in society”, “least liked neighbour”, “justifiability of homosexuality” and “enjoy sexual freedom”.

All four items were considered to attain a general overview about attitudes towards homosexuality whereas for comparing the different groups, I focused on item three, “justifiability of homosexuality”, because it addresses the question of tolerance towards homosexuality most directly.



When we look at the results for item one, “least liked group in society”, as displayed in Figure 1.1, homosexuals are the group with the second smallest percentage (4.5 %) of people naming them as the kind of people they like the least. Compared to several other “controversial” groups of society, such as criminals, capitalists or immigrants, homosexuals therefore seem to be quite tolerated.

Fig. 2.1 Least liked group in society

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Graphic: Nehlsen, I., 2011; data source: World Values Survey, 1995. Original wording : “I'd like to ask you some groups that some people feel are threatening to the social political order in this society. Would you please select from the following list the one group or organization that you like least?”

For the second item, “least liked neighbour” (Fig. 1.2), 27 % of the participants mentioned homosexuals from a list of different kinds of people, such as drug addicts, students, several nationalities and ethnic or religious groups. Although the majority still does not seem to mind living next to a homosexual, 27 % is quite a considerable percentage of people who would not want to have homosexuals as neighbours. If we compare this to the percentage of people who selected homosexuals as the group in society they liked least, we might say that people become less tolerant when it comes to more or less direct contact with homosexuals.


[1] There is also more recent data available, but only in the 1995 sample all of the items I used for my analysis were included, which is why I chose this year. All information on Argentina in this essay refers to the situation as of 1995.

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Tolerance towards Homosexuality in Argentina
Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH
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Inga Nehlsen (Author), 2011, Tolerance towards Homosexuality in Argentina, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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