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Why, and to What Extent, Have Conservatives Supported Tradition?


Traditional conservatism, mainly referred to as traditionalism or classical conservatism or traditionalist conservatism, refers to a social and political philosophy that pushing on the need for the values of honest and right moral living, always evident through certain societal norms and natural laws upon which every person should abide by faithfully (Blee & Creasap, 2010). Together with Toryism, classical conservatism is founded on the social-political philosophy of Edmund B and Aristotle. Traditionalists put weight on the cohesion of social norms and protection of institutions established by the ancestors in an aspect they term excessive individualism. Classical conservatism centres most of its argument on beliefs of convention, tradition and custom practices (Turner-Zwinkels, Johnson, Sibley & Brandt, 2021). The theoretical reason behind their claim has been criticized and was found to be the most viable compared to the practical reason. Classical conservatism views governments and state systems as a communal organizations led by organic and spiritual qualities.

Traditionalists assert that change does not come willingly and is not an intentional act backed by reason but rather an innate aspect that naturally reigns in humans as dictated by community traditions (Turner-Zwinkels et al., 2021). They view hierarchy, authority and leadership as natural products instituted by tradition. Classical conservatism is rooted in Europe from back in the 18th century which was meant to be a counter-response to the disorders brought on by the civil war in England (Turner-Zwinkels et al., 2021). It was also meant to counter the disorders caused by the French revolution. Classical conservatism later began to organize its practices as a political and intellectual force in the middle of the 20th century (Turner-Zwinkels et al., 2021). Different scholars regarding traditional conservatism have done detailed and vast research. This paper does a critical and comprehensive literature review of the different resources regarding classical conservatism.

Literature Review

The United States’ conservative unions fully support economic policies that are collective, conventional morality, fervent patriotism and traditionalism (Blee & Creasap, 2010). For instance, traditionalists are against abortion. This moral standing comes from their strong belief in the value of life and morality (Blee & Creasap, 2010). Additionally, classical conservatives continuously protest and push against any form of sex evolution and sex education in schools. This movement claims that sex teaching is against ethics concerning biblical values and teachings (Blee & Creasap, 2010). Classical conservatives also push for criminals to be punished traditionally, including corporal punishment and the death penalty. This article on Conservative and Right-Wing Movements provides an essential insight into how classical conservatism seeks to stand for traditional morals, norms and practices in critical societal matters such as sex, abortion, pornography and prostitution that affect the societal setting negatively (Blee & Creasap, 2010). These insights from a conservative point of view are evident enough that they support traditions more so on the issue of societal morality. Such insights are vital in arguing that conservatives support tradition when it comes to morality in society. According to the writer of this article, classical conservatives continually support tradition in terms of customs and practices. Through their push for traditional practices, they continually speak against vices that continue to emerge in the modern world (Blee & Creasap, 2010). This aspect is evident enough of their support of tradition and its standards.

The article on Patterns of Conservative Religious Belief and Religious Practice across College Majors has the sole purpose of determining whether individuals with specific majors in educational qualifications, like science and mathematics, show any sign of conservative beliefs and religious practices (Schleifer, Brauer, & Patel, 2018). The article identified that people who have pursued majors like mathematics and natural sciences are least likely to show signs of conservative practices. This depends on the age of the person in question, however. For example, older individuals show high signs of conservative practices than young people though having majored in natural sciences and mathematics (Schleifer et al., 2018). The article analyses the effect of education on conservative practices, thus providing a foundation for evaluating the effects of education on the evolution of conservative practices as pushed by conservatives.

Furthermore, the article identifies a relatively new aspect of conservative students. It further argues that it is entirely essential to determine the traditional conservative metrics supported by students (Schleifer et al., 2018). It is a question of whether they support virginity, protection of children through traditional practices, morality, authoritarian parenting, equity, practices and customs (Schleifer et al., 2018). The conservative movements have spoken against any form of child abuse over the years and that children should be protected as per the traditional guidelines. The article’s writers clearly state that with regard to the parenting and childcare issue, conservatives have supported tradition as they continually push for traditional practices that, according to them, are morally correct (Schleifer et al., 2018). Critics have been made regarding this argument on individuals with majors in mathematics and sciences showing a minimal inclination to conservative practices. The author needs to relate the factors behind this finding clearly. Although age is a determining factor in this case, this research fails to expound on the age limits.

According to Smith in his article on Transmission of Faith in Families: The Influence of Religious Ideology, religiosity is mainly associated with intimate or close family relationships. The closeness of family relationships determines the strength of the religious transmission. Smith (2020) claims that religious belief directly relates to the sanctification of family life, which may trigger parents to devote more on family ties (Smith, 2020). This line of thinking matches with the conservative religious ideology. In a case scenario, conservative Protestants show an authoritative parenting style and display high parental interaction levels by speaking minimally (Smith, 2020).

Furthermore, conservative Protestants take children’s protection and family life to heart as per traditional dictates (Smith, 2020). This article continuously addresses the concepts of child protection, families and relationships. These key factors form the basis of religious transmission and traditional family setup. Classical conservatives believe that society should not move away from the traditional concept of family ties as they are the building blocks to vital family relationships and religious beliefs (Smith, 2020). The author, though fails to address the traditional practices that threaten the human race like abortion. Nevertheless, it indicates that conservative Protestants are very much inclined to traditions.

According to an article on Conservatives’ Moral Foundations Are More Densely Connected than Liberals’ Moral Foundations, morality creates the foundation of large-scale societal setting with the knowledge that it focuses on the relationship between groups, individuals and institutions (Turner-Zwinkels et al., 2021). The current moral systems, obtained from traditional norms and practices, involve similar psychological mechanisms, practices, institutions and values that promote corporation and speak against selfish intentions (Turner-Zwinkels et al., 2021). Even though liberals and conservatives differ concerning moral standards, they promote the doctrine of universalism, humanitarianism and egalitarianism. Additionally, equality considerations encourage conservatives on traditionalism, on the insight that equality is known to impact individuals’ views about a particular surrounding danger and the cognitive structure (Turner-Zwinkels et al., 2021). This further article claims that fully supports the traditions’ moral standards. This article is essential in providing insight into moral standards that make conservatives involve traditionalism. This article plays a critical role in explaining the importance of moral values to be observed traditionally with prudency and utmost strictness to the rule of law as determined by society. The continued push against immorality and the fact that traditional moral standards should be the guiding tool towards achieving societal morality clearly indicates that classical conservatives fully support tradition (Turner-Zwinkels et al., 2021).

The research on Political beliefs and the acceptance involving Poland case study, when the communists governed Poland, the emphasis was on upholding the status quo through traditions and conservatism. This entailed preserving the prevailing situations after the state looked at the citizens and the economy rather than incorporating modern principles of a free market as advocated by the liberals. Traditionally, the economy was more of a communist society, where people could exchange goods and services based on need rather than profit (Turska-Kawa & Pilch, 2022). This was in line with traditional concepts of openness, conscientiousness, and authoritarianism preferences of the conservatives. As indicated above, this article discusses the conservatives’ approaches to the economy, especially on the verge of tough economic times (COVID-19 & economic downturn). Hence, it offers a proper comparison of whether or not traditional (communism) or modern (capitalism) approaches to the economy, as supported by conservatives and liberals, are best suited for economic revival. Classical conservatives are continually against the liberal’s view on leadership any economic setup as they believe the society should stick to the traditional aspect, in that people can conduct businesses based on proximity and not profit. This aspect is a clear indication that conservatives uphold and support tradition. This view on the communist approach to governance has faced several criticisms. It makes people dependent and lazy because they know that services and economic rewards will be shared communally. According to liberals, this approach may cause economic stagnation as there is no motivation for hard work. In any case, the rewards will be shared and distributed as per the communist’s view.

According to Sterling, in line with the concept of a good society, the conservatives usually prioritize social order, religious traditions, nativism, system jurisdiction, and nativism (Sterling, Jost & Hardin, 2019). In fact, according to one of the well-known conservatives by the name, Edmund Burke, a society that is unwilling to study or learn from its respective past could be considered a doomed society (Sterling et al., 2019). Edmund is known for leading a spirited resistance against the Enlightenment ideas and the French Revolution that incorporated conservatives to entirely resist various progressive social change forms for more than 200 years. As indicated by Sterling et al. (2019), Burke also emphasized the role and functionalities of tradition and religion in fostering a good society. He stated that tradition and religion are sources of good things in life and comfort (Sterling et al., 2019). They also form the basis of a society that is civilized. This article directly stipulates how conservatives, in favor of a good society, consider tradition and religion as the basis of comfort, good, and civilization. Hence, it offers vital insights into how conservatives support tradition (Sterling et al., 2019). This article is a clear indication that classical conservatives are in full support of traditional practices that uphold society’s comfort and goodness. One missing factor in this author’s review is that only some traditional practices push for societal wellness. Further, it is only partially true that upholding traditional societal practices and instilling them into the current society may yield the same positive results as in the past. Although it portrays a sense of traditional consciousness, the aspect of the revolution of the modern world on societal practices is ignored.


Conclusively, this paper has critically analyzed the conservative views about society and how they have supported and continue to support traditional practices. We have looked at various authors, how they have written, and their insight regarding classical conservatives;. However, all authors are focused on various aspects of life and agree that conservatives fully support tradition. To what extent have we identified that conservatives seek to incorporate traditional practices on issues such as child protection, parenting, communists vs liberals and morality that upraise the societal standards. One of the issues we have identified as controversial is their view on traditional punishment, such as death penalty and corporal punishment. This insight tends to fall below current societal standards. Generally, conservatives have and continue to support tradition.


Blee, K.M., & Creasap, K. A. (2010). Conservative and Right-Wing Movements. Annual Review of Sociology. Department of Sociology, University of Pittsburgh. Vol. 36:269-286.

Schleifer, C., Brauer, G. S., & Patel, V. R. (2018). Patterns of Conservative Religious Belief and Religious Practice across College Majors, Sociology of Religion. Vol 79, Issue 3, Pages 299–322,

Smith, J. (2020). Transmission of Faith in Families: The Influence of Religious Ideology. Social Relig. 8;82(3):332-356. doi: 10.1093/socrel/sraa045. PMID: 34149869; PMCID: PMC8204683.

Sterling, J., Jost, J. T., & Hardin, C. D. (2019). Liberal and Conservative Representations of the Good Society: A (Social) Structural Topic Modeling Approach. Sage Journal. SMaPP Global Special Issue – Original Research.

Turner-Zwinkels, F. M., Johnson, B. B., Sibley, C. G., & Brandt, M. J. (2021). Conservatives’ Moral Foundations Are More Densely Connected Than Liberals’ Moral Foundations. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 47(2), 167–184.

Turska-Kawa, A., & Pilch, I. (2022). Political beliefs and the acceptance of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic restrictions. The case of Poland. PLoS ONE 17(3): e0264502.


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