Freedom Rising. Human Empowerment and the Quest for Emancipation


This book presents a comprehensive theory of why human freedom gave way to increasing oppression since the invention of states – and why this trend began to reverse itself more recently, leading to a rapid expansion of universal freedoms and democracy. Drawing on a massive body of evidence, the author tests various explanations of the rise of freedom, providing convincing support of a well-reasoned theory of emancipation. The study demonstrates multiple trends toward human empowerment, which converge to give people control over their lives. Most important among these trends is the spread of “emancipative values,” which emphasize free choice and equal opportunities. The author identifies the desire for emancipation as the origin of the human empowerment trend and shows when and why this desire grows strong; why it is the source of democracy; and how it vitalizes civil society, feeds humanitarian norms, enhances happiness, and helps redirect modern civilization toward sustainable development.

  • The first study to integrate the multitude of human empowerment trends in a single coherent framework: the theory of emancipation
  • Provides massive evidence for its key points, from some hundred societies around the world, representing more than ninety percent of the world population
  • Findings are richly illustrated in more than one hundred graphical and tabular illustrations

Christian Welzel is Chair of Political Culture Research at the Center for the Study of Democracy, Leuphana University Lueneburg, Germany, and President of the World Values Survey Association. He is also special foreign consultant to the Laboratory of Comparative Social Research at the Higher School of Economics, St Petersburg, Russia, and a permanent affiliate of the Center for the Study of Democracy at the University of California, Irvine.

Welzel, Christian: Freedom Rising. Human Empowerment and the Quest for Emancipation, 2013, New York: Cambridge University Press, 441 Seiten, $32.99, ISBN 978-1-107-03470-9