In sociology, post-materialism is the transformation of individual values from materialist, physical and economic to new individual values of autonomy and self-expression.
Post-materialism is a tool in developing an understanding of modern
culture. It can be considered in reference of three distinct concepts of
materialism. The first kind of materialism, and the one in reference to which the word post-materialism
is used most often, refers to materialism as a value-system relating to
the desire for fulfillment of material needs (such as security,
sustenance and shelter) and an emphasis on material luxuries in a consumerist society. A second referent is the materialist conception of history held by many socialists, most notably Marx and Engels, as well as their philosophic concept of dialectical materialism.
The third definition of materialism concerns the philosophical argument
that matter is the only existing reality. The first concept is
sociological, the second is both philosophical and sociological, and the
third is philosophical.
Depending on which of the three above notions of materialism are being discussed, post-materialism can be an ontological postmaterialism, an existentialistic postmaterialism, an ethical postmaterialism or a political-sociological postmaterialism, which is also the best known.