Changing mennonite values: Attitudes on women, politics, and peace, 1972-1989

Conrad L. Kanagy, Elizabethtown College
Leo Driedger, University of Manitoba


A number of scholars have documented the broad social changes that have occurred in the U.S. and other Western societies since World War II, changes dramatically affecting the attitudes and values of more recent generations socialized during this period. These societal trends also apply to Mennonites in North America. Fifty years ago the pre-World War II cohort was preoccupied with internal Mennonite community survival, with most members residing in segregated rural areas. By the 1990s, however, half lived in communities of 2,500 or more, with four times as many in the professions as working on the farm. In this study we l) analyze trends among Mennonites from 1972-1989 with regard to attitudes about the role of women, political participation, and peacemaking, and 2) evaluate the importance of intercohort (across birth cohort) and intracohort (within birth cohort) change. For all three dependent variables intercohort change is significant. Intracohort change is significant only for attitudes about the role of women and peace.