The subject of this dissertation is a complex of social and cultural shifts, which has marked the development in advanced, capitalist societies since World War II. Of course this period exhibits a multitude of varieties, concerning social and cultural developments. But we also find some general tendencies, whch seems to have characterized this whole period. Thus, the first decennia were dominated by cultural orientations and social values, stressing a principle of adaptation to the demands and imperatives of society. Accepting these imperatives seemed to be of utmost importance, giving cdtural dominance to attitudes of compliance. But from the end of the 1960's onwards, these cultural orientations were broken up, or challenged at least. From now 0n critical stances towards the imperatives ofthe social system become more frequent. And social values, stressing the need of expressing and realizing oneself, stressing the need of influencing your social environments, are considerably strengthened. In my project I ask, how we can understand the nature of these cultural shifts. I ask to the kind of concepts and to the kind of theoretical framework that are needed, if we shall be able to discuss these developments in an appropriate way. And I ask to the significance of these shifts, in terms of their extent, and in tenns of their intensity and depth. There are two main questions involved in this. One question concerns the role of cultural orientations within contexts of social relations; and the role of cultural shifts within contexts of social change. The other question concerns the nature of the cultural orientations mentioned above. The kind of orientation characterized by adaptation to the external demands of society, I call an orientation of heteronomy. And the kind of orientation stressing the need of selfexpression and the need of influencing the social environments, I call an orientation of autonomy. Obviously, these questions are woven together, and I try to clarify the matters involved through the works of two main figures in social science; that is Parsons, and Gramsci. Both Parsons and Gramsci paid great attention to the role of cultural orientations, and they represent some of the most persevering efforts to grasp this matter. But, as might be known, the works of Parsons and Gramsci are very different in character. Their style is very differenc the whole architecture of their conceptions are different; and the perspevtives, concerning the possible future of social life, emanating from these conceptions, are very different. The primary focus of Parsons concerns the conditions of social order; and much of his work might be seen as an attempt to elaborate the theoretical framework, necessary to understand such conditions. A keystone within this framework, is the principle of voluntary, social action. And this clearly indicates the intentions of Parsons, to combine those principles of creativity, that are related to the concept of voluntary action, with the principles of social order. But despite these efforts on Parsons part, I try to argue, that his way of conceiving social action, and relations between actors and society as a whole, does not allow for the above mentioned principle of autonomy, to be developed. Rather, his conceptions and the whole thrust of his theory seem to be inherently connected to heteronomy. Or at least we can say, that the principle of heteronomy always gains the upper hand It is important to notice, that this characteristic of Parsons position is not founded in concrete historical investigations, allowing for different contingencies to be considered. It is a characteristic that follows from the very nature of his concepts. It is, thus, given apriori, that the dominance of heteronony will prevail. Which means, that any attempt to evaluate the significance of those social and culturel currents, apparantly strengthening the principle of autonomy, will have to look for alternative ways of understanding social and cultural processes. And here, I think, Gramsci is an obvious possibility. If the primary concern of Parsons were related to questions of the conditions of social order, Gramscis concems were focused on the conditions of overcoming the social order of capitalist society. And for Gramsci this also means overcoming those principles of heteronomy, which, according to his view, was built into this very society. And it involves a radical strengthening of the principle of autonony. For these reasons, Gramscis position seems more appropriate, concemingpossibilities of addressing those questions outlimed above. Thus, Gramscistheoretical he work is not burdened with such apriori’s that we find in Parsons. His conceptions involves nopresuppositiom, as to the development of autonorny versus heteronomy, and they are, thus, much more adequate, conceming analysis and evaluations of such developments. In continuation of Gramsci, and founded on a critical examination of works of Inglehart on cultural shifts, the project is finished in an account of those shifts, that seemed to strengthen tendencies of autononty. Though more research will be needed, I conclude, tentatively, that his principle of autonorny were strengthened considerably duringthe period from late 1960‘s to early ‘8O’S. During those years, tendencies of autonorny were challenging the type of hegemony, that had dominated the post-war era. But from the early ‘80‘s onwards, these tendencies seered considerable setbacks. Though they have not been extinguished they have been hegemonised in new forms.