Behind the all-important social indicators – from public attitudes towards immigration to incidence of hate crimes – is the question of why. Why do people hold such attitudes, or behave in such ways? Research has revealed a consistent and often overlooked factor in answering this question: our values.
A new report from the Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC), commissioned by Equinet, found that when people value community, social justice and freedom, they tend to be less discriminatory.
Across Europe the research shows a positive picture: people view these values as most important.
So why are people still not treated equally?
Because patterns of prejudice and inequality in Europe are linked to the weight people place on these values compared with others. From attitudes towards minorities in leadership positions to the rate at which people report discrimination, the influence of values is clear and consistent.
One example from the findings: the graph above illustrates that relationship that exists between values and attitudes to gay and lesbian people. Self-transcendence and openness-to-change values are associated with more positive attitudes towards homosexuality.
These values are not static; they can be engaged and strengthened. European equality bodies and other organisations can actively work to bring to the fore the sense of respect and care for others that every person already holds within them.
Communicating these values is therefore an important consideration for these organisations. The report explores the values these organisations may express in their work, and how these could be better aligned with the values that will ensure that people across Europe are motivated to live in acceptance of one another, free from discrimination, and in peace.
The graph above illustrates the organisation of values as used in the research. 57 values such as “social justice” or “respect for tradition” are grouped into 10 value groups such as “universalism”, “power”, “self-direction”, etc.
The report in PDF format (935 KB) is available below:
In 2012, Equinet organised a training event called “Tackling Under-Reporting of Discrimination Through Better Communications”. This event included a workshop facilitated by PIRC. This workshop sought to explore an innovative perspective on communication work for equality bodies seeking to contribute to a culture of acceptance and respect. The workshop drew attention to the crucial role of values in such work: understanding how communications could engage particular values and be both more effective and aligned with the principles of the organisation.
The current report was commissioned by Equinet to further explore how values might inform the work of equality bodies.
If you wish to receive the report’s appendices and more information please contact Sarah.