August 2, 20124 Comments

More responses to Tony Juniper: 
vision, experience and evidence

In the wake of Tony Juniper’s recent Independent blog on the role of values in environmental and social change campaigning, a number of people in the Common Cause network sent reflections on the points he raises about the “Values Modes” approach - which seeks to accommodate existing values, whatever they may be - and the fundamental challenge to this approach presented in Common Cause, which seeks to promote the values associated with socially and environmentally beneficial attitudes and behaviours.

We’ve split these responses into three categories: vision, experience and evidence. Read more

August 2, 20127 Comments

A response to Tony Juniper

There are two questions I would like to put to the proponents of Values Modes or
Cultural Dynamics (CD).

Firstly, is systemic change necessary? In other words: in order to minimise the speed and impact of climate change, do we need to alter any of the fundamental workings of the institutions and machinery of our society so that they, collectively, produce markedly different environmental outcomes? If your answer is no, that things are basically fine and some of the outputs just need tweaking, then we can stop right here as we’ve found the point of real and absolute difference with the Common Cause approach that supersedes everything below. I’d suggest people use this difference to judge which of the two more suits them.

If, however, we do think systemic change is necessary, then that requires us to examine certain facts. Firstly, that the global political economy is built in large part around corporate consumerist values of wealth, status and power. As opposed to, say, beauty, equality or caring for loved ones. Countries must acquire ever more material wealth (or GDP growth); individuals are encouraged hundreds or thousands of times every day to dress in a certain way to be attractive, watch TV to be entertained, look younger, drive better cars, go on foreign holidays, and so on. We must look at the fact that to drive these behaviours, consumers – as we've become known – must actually want them; that demand is required. To create demand, peoples' desire for (that is, the degree to which they value) their own wealth, power and status are commonly appealed to. We must circle back round to the fact that to satisfy the demand that they have spent large budgets and endless amounts of human creativity to stimulate, the vast majority of economic actors – what can credibly be called the bulk of the system – use methods of production and distribution that are directly and significantly implicated in changing the climate. Which brings us irrevocably back round to the intense focus we place on the values that drive this type of economic activity. And finally, we must accept that the intensity and self-perpetuating nature of that focus, must, at some level, be addressed if we are interested in anything but treating symptoms. Read more

March 28, 20121 Comment

Treating people as consumers boosts materialistic values

“One of the most profound changes in our modern vocabulary is the way in which ‘We the People’ are defined”, observes the academic David Rutherford. “Not so very long ago, we ‘pictured’ ourselves as citizens. … Today, we are most often referred to (and therefore increasingly inclined to ‘see’ ourselves) as consumers.”

Too true. There has been an inexorable rise in the use of the term ‘consumer’ over the past forty years – a stark trend evident in both newspapers and books. But whilst the rise of consumerism has been well-documented, evidence of its negative impacts have proven harder to pin down. Does it really matter that we’re all consumers now? Read more

January 25, 20121 Comment

What about people for whom extrinsic values are particularly important?

A great deal of the research that we have brought together on this site points to the advantages, on aggregate, of appealing to intrinsic values in communicating to people about social and environmental problems - and the potential costs of appealing to extrinsic values.

But, of course, people aren't all the same, and it may be that there are some people who are simply impervious to communications which appeal to intrinsic values. We've argued that this is unlikely, because we all express all these values at different times - life, afterall, is a 'dance around the values circle'!

But the original group of people who supported the Common Cause report - from COIN, CPRE, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam and WWF - wanted to test this further. So we enlisted the help of some psychologists (at Cardiff University, and Knox College, Illinois) and linguists (at Lancaster University). Read more

August 22, 2011No Comments

Value Modes and Common Cause: 
The dangers of appeals to money, image and status

There is much about the Common Cause approach which is in agreement with the 'Value Modes' approach advocated by Chris Rose and Pat Dade:  both approaches draw from a similar body of empirical work, recognize the tensions that exist in people’s value systems, and acknowledge the need to tailor different communications to different audiences.

But there is a critical difference:

Rose and Dade claim that campaigns and communications which appeal to values of money, image and status are likely to weaken these values. For example, according Rose:

“…once the underlying dominant unmet need is met, a new one takes its place… So, if Prospectors meet that need by getting enough stuff and following sufficient fashion etc, they do not stay Prospectors but develop other needs – i.e., they become Pioneers”

Tim Kasser and I have maintained that the evidence suggests this is not the case. In fact, we argue that such campaigns are likely to reinforce the importance that people give to values of money, image and status.

Rose and Dade have been adamant that they are right - prompting us to want to check our understanding with psychologists who are expert in behaviour, motivation and values.

So we recently conducted a small survey of such psychologists. We presented them with two scenarios, designed to explore the crux of the difference between the Common Cause and Value Modes approaches. All those who responded concurred with our viewpoint. None supported Rose and Dade's perspective.

To read more, download the briefing:

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©2018 - 2019 Common Cause Foundation

©2018 - 2019 Common Cause Foundation

©2018 - 2019 Common Cause Foundation

©2018 - 2019 Common Cause Foundation

©2018 - 2019 Common Cause Foundation

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