The reference book, undertaking also a didactic purpose, is adjusted to the way of thinking and sensitivity towards problems of university students and of the present intelligentsia in general by its disciplinary profundity and riches in thought besides its communicative ('user-friendly') way of expression. (Actually several parts of it have been functioning as university textbooks in the author's practice as university professor for his subjects such as the sociology of values and even for general sociology.) At the same time, as a research report, it offers a theoretical model from the achievements of the author's empirical surveys in the area of the sociology of values, conducted for several decades, and from the data of two presently conducted national representative surveys. The model may serve as a basis to the development of an inevitable new strategy of the nation in a globalising world and in a unified Europe. For the first time in Hungarian sociology the work hypothesises the role the post-modern (emancipatory) trend of changing values, sensed in mega scale in the civilised world, played in the East and Central European political and social change. It studies empirically the hypothesis of the significance of that role and makes it possible to the extent of the actual achievements. Further on, it shows that the corresponding 'target value' of this emancipatory bravery, liberated for autonomous thinking and action as 'instrumental value' is nothing else but the 'quality of life' demanded by the enlightened population. In the interpretation of this concept that has acquired focal significance in social policy, too, the work utilises the concept of Amartya Sen, Nobel laureate in economics, according to which in addition to consumer goods it is also the experience of the usefulness of one's own function that plays a role. Instead of the so-called 'value advocacy' (when the authors present their own value commitment as objective research results) the basic outlook of the monograph is its resolute intention to present the acknowledged value aspects for open discussion, thus professing 'the preservation and creation of values by value discourse'.