Mother Pelican
A Journal of Sustainable Human Development

Vol. 6, No. 11, November 2010
Luis T. Gutierrez, Editor
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Common Cause: The Case for Working with our Cultural Values

Tom Crompton
World Wildlife Federation-UK, September 2010

Points of contact (members of the working group):
Tom Crompton, Change Strategist at WWF-UK
Tim Baster, Executive Director, Climate Outreach Information Network (COIN)
Neil Sinden, Director of Policy and Campaigns, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)
Adeela Warley, Head of Communications, Friends of the Earth (FOE)
Martin Kirk, Head of UK Campaigns, Oxfam GB
David Norman, Director of Campaigns, WWF-UK

Link to the complete report (free dowload):
Common Cause: The Case for Working with our Cultural Values

Reprinted with Permission


There is an irony at the heart of much campaigning on global challenges – including campaigning on humanitarian and environmental crises: as our awareness of the profound scale of these challenges and the difficulty of addressing them grows, we tend to rely ever more heavily upon a set of issue-specific tactics which may actually militate against the emergence of the systemic and durable solutions that are needed.

Whatever the recent successes of civil society organisations in helping to address such challenges, it seems that current responses are incommensurate with the scale of the problems we confront. It is increasingly evident that resistance to action on these challenges will only be overcome through engagement with the cultural values that underpin this resistance. It also seems clear that, in trying to meet these challenges, civil society organisations must champion some long-held (but insufficiently esteemed) values, while seeking to diminish the primacy of many values which are now prominent – at least in Western industrialised society.

The values that must be strengthened – values that are commonly held and which can be brought to the fore – include: empathy towards those who are facing the effects of humanitarian and environmental crises, concern for future generations, and recognition that human prosperity resides in relationships – both with one another and with the natural world. Undoubtedly these are values that have been weakened – and often even derided – in modern culture. They are not, for example, values that are fostered by treating people as if they are, above all else, consumers. But they are values that have an ancient and noble history within Western thinking, and they still fundamentally inform much public debate. They are there to be activated and strengthened. We believe that everyone – individual citizens, civil society organisations, government and business – can play an active role in strengthening them. Indeed, they are values that must be championed if we are to uncover the collective will to deal with today's profound global challenges.

Civil society organisations must not shrink from making the case for strengthening these values, or beginning to work to ensure that their communications and campaigns contribute to this effort. But this process must be transparent, inclusive, and reflexive. Many vested interest groups have long understood the mechanisms by which values are promoted culturally, and many have worked – consciously or unconsciously – to help embed those cultural values that serve their purposes, often without public scrutiny or debate. The approach that we outline here is very different. Rather, in working to strengthen helpful values, civil society organisations can seize the opportunity to openly describe their strategies and why they take these to be important. They can work to include the widest possible range of perspectives in building on the evidence base that science provides. And they can embody the values that they espouse in the design of their communications and campaigns in inspiring ways.

Debates on the consequences of cultural values and the mechanisms by which they evolve must become as vigorous as public debate about the evidence base for government policy, business practice or civil society campaigns. There is a crucial and exciting role for civil society organisations in ensuring that this becomes the case.

Foreword 05
Working Group 07
Acknowledgements 07
Summary and guide 08
1. Context 17
1.1 Current approaches to tackling global challenges are failing 17
1.2 Public demand for change is critically important 18
1.3 In making judgments, feelings are more important than facts 18
1.4 Selling hamburgers, selling behaviour change 20
1.5 Politics and values 23
1.6 Ethics and civil society organisations 23
1.7 Some crucial questions for civil society organisations to address 25
Summary, Section 1 26
2. Goals and values 27
2.1 The organisation of values 27
2.2 Values and behaviour 30
2.3 Values and bigger-than-self problems 32
2.4 The dynamic nature of value systems 33
2.5 What factors serve to strengthen values? 35
2.6 Are people inherently selfish? 36
Summary, Section 2 39
3. Frames and framing 40
3.1 Introduction to frames 40
3.2 Frames and political action 41
3.3 Frames and conceptual metaphors 44
3.4 Frames, conceptual metaphors and values 45
3.5 Some examples of deep frames 46
3.5.1 'Self-interest' and 'common-interest' frames 47
3.5.2 'Strict father' and 'nurturant parent' frames 53
3.5.3 'Elite governance' and 'participative democracy' frames 55
Summary, Section 3 58
Common Cause page 4
4. From theory to prac tice:
Working with values and deep frames 59
4.1 Principle 1: Be transparent and participatory,
and demand the same standard from others 59
4.2 Principle 2: Ensure that communications
and campaigns embody the values that they seek to promote 61
4.3 Principle 3: Be prepared to work for systemic change 61
4.4 Principle 4: Build new coalitions 62
4.5 Principle 5: Understand the full impact of policy 64
4.6 Principle 6: Manage trade-offs where these are unavoidable 68
4.7 Principle 7: Tailor the message to the audience 74
4.8 Principle 8: Make it fun and dare to dream 74
Summary, Section 4 76
Appendix 1: The organisation of life-goals and values 77
A1.1 Life-goals 77
A1.2 Values 79
Appendix 2: Values and bigger-than-self problems 82
A2.1 Peacefulness 82
A2.2 Attitudes to human rights 82
A2.3 Attitudes to people who are 'different' 83
A2.4 Attitudes to global poverty 84
A2.5 Attitudes to the environment 84
A2.6 Civic involvement for social change 86
Appendix 3: Tools for analysing frames 87
A3.1 Participant response analysis 87
A3.2 Text analysis 87
A3.2.1 Large-scale analysis 87
A3.2.2 Close-text analysis 87
A3.3 Taking account of other aspects of lived experience 88
References 89

  • Any communication or campaign will inevitably serve to convey particular values, intentionally or otherwise.
  • People’s decisions are driven importantly by the values they hold – frequently unconsciously, and sometimes to the virtual exclusion of a rational assessment of the facts.
  • Values comprise an integrated and dynamic system, such that activating one particular value affects other values (activating compatible values and suppressing opposing values).
  • Intrinsic values are associated with concern, and corresponding behaviour, about bigger-than-self problems.
  • Values can be both activated and they can be further strengthened, such that they become easier to activate.
  • Frames are of key importance in thinking about values and how these are activated and strengthened culturally.
  • Deep frames (and therefore the values that these embody) are activated and strengthened through many aspects of our lived experience.
  • There is no such thing as value-neutral policy.
  • Values are also shapedby people’s experience of public policies.
  • Civil society organisations should develop an explicit awareness of the values that their campaigns serve to activate and therefore strengthen, and then strive for complete transparency in acknowledging that they are working to promote these values.


This executive summary is more than a condensed version of the overall document: it also provides a map of the report. The report itself amasses a considerable body of empirical evidence in support of the case that it builds. This evidence is presented both in the main body of the document and in the appendices. This summary provides an overview of the case that the report builds, and a guide to finding particular parts of this argument substantiated in the main text.

Note: Concepts and key arguments in bold type are indexed to the relevant sections of the Common Cause Report.

We are confronting profound challenges

This report is intended to catalyse debate on current approaches to tackling a wide range of challenges – including global poverty, climate change and biodiversity loss. Whatever the success of civil society organisations in beginning to address such challenges, these often seem to be intractable or worsening. Throughout this report such challenges are referred to, collectively, as 'bigger-than-self' problems [Section 1.1]. This is to distinguish them from another class of problem: one that it is clearly in an individual's immediate self-interest to invest energy and resources in helping to tackle (for example, an insensitive development in their neighbourhood). For someone involved in civic engagement in the UK, bigger-than-self problems may include those which face people elsewhere – for example, human rights violations in a distant country. They may also include problems that will affect people in the UK, but where the 'return' on an individual's personal effort to help address this problem is unlikely to justify his or her expenditure of resources in helping to tackle the problem.

Bolder leadership from both political and business leaders is necessary if proportional responses to these challenges are to emerge, but active public engagement with these problems is of crucial importance. This is partly because of the direct material impacts of an individual's behaviour (for example, his or her environmental footprint), partly because of lack of consumer demand for ambitious changes in business practice, and partly because of the lack of political space and pressure for governments to enact change.

Our dominant model of human decision-making needs updating

There is mounting evidence from a range of studies in cognitive science that the dominant 'Enlightenment model' of human decision-making is extremely incomplete. According to this model we imagine ourselves, when faced with a decision, to be capable of dispassionately assessing the facts, foreseeing probable outcomes of different responses, and then selecting and pursuing an optimal course of action. As a result, many approaches to campaigning on bigger-than-self problems still adhere to the conviction that 'if only people really knew' the true nature or full scale of the problems which we confront, then they would be galvanised into demanding more proportionate action in response.

But this understanding of how people reach decisions is very incomplete. There is mounting evidence that facts play only a partial role in shaping people's judgment. Emotion is often far more important [see Section 1.3]. It is increasingly apparent that our collective decisions are based importantly upon a set of factors that often lie beyond conscious awareness, and which are informed in important part by emotion – in particular, dominant cultural values, which are tied to emotion.

It seems that individuals are often predisposed to reject information when accepting it would challenge their identity and values. Campaigning approaches that rely on the provision of information may well work for people whose existing values are confirmed through accepting, and acting upon, that information. But for others, the same information (for example, about the scale of the challenge climate change presents) may simply serve to harden resistance to accepting new government policies or adopting new private-sphere behaviours. This points to the need to incorporate an understanding of people's values into civil society campaigns.

It is inescapably the case that any communication or campaign will inevitably serve to convey particular values, intentionally or otherwise. Moreover, in conveying these values, the communication or campaign will help to further strengthen those values culturally.

People's decisions are driven importantly by the values they hold – frequently unconsciously, and sometimes to the virtual exclusion of a rational assessment of the facts. In particular, some values provide a better source of motivation for engaging bigger-than-self problems than other values.

The conjunction of these two insights – that communications and campaigns inevitably serve to strengthen particular values, and that a person's values have a profound and usually unconscious effect on the behavioural choices that they make – raises profound ethical questions [see Section 1.6].

The practical response to this ethical challenge cannot be to strive for value-neutral communications (this would be impossible). Rather, it is to strive for transparency, communicating to an audience not just what values a particular communication or campaign is intended to convey, but also why those values are considered important. In the light of this, if one accepts that there are ethical imperatives for addressing bigger-than-self problems, one is presumably also likely to accept that there are ethical imperatives for conveying some values rather than others – provided that these are conveyed with a high degree of transparency.

This points to an important role for civil society organisations, which have long focused mainly on examining the factual basis for addressing bigger-than-self problems, and engaging in debate about the best practical approaches to achieving this. Now it can be seen that civil society organisations must also develop expertise in examining and laying bare the values that particular communications promote: starting with their own, and then moving on to begin to examine the values implicit in the communications of a range of participants in public debate – including those of vested interest groups.

Values and behaviour are intimately connected

There is a large body of evidence about the way in which people's values are organised across cultural contexts, and this report reviews some of these results. In particular, two research findings are of importance: First, people's values tend to cluster in remarkably similar ways across cultures; second, the relationship between different values is such that some sets of values can easily be held simultaneously while others oppose one another. [This evidence is summarised in the main report, in Sections 2.1 and 2.2. But, because it is of central importance to the subsequent arguments that are constructed in this paper, the research is also examined in more detail in Appendix 1.] A person's values comprise an integrated and dynamic system, such that activating one particular value affects other values (activating compatible values and suppressing opposing values).

Any communication or campaign will inevitably serve to convey particular values, intentionally or otherwise People's decisions are driven importantly by the values they hold – frequently unconsciously, and sometimes to the virtual exclusion of a rational assessment of the facts Values comprise an integrated and dynamic system, such that activating one particular value affects other values (activating compatible values and suppressing opposing values)

Simplified, the work presented here on values points to a distinction between two broad classes of value: intrinsic or self-transcendent values, and extrinsic or selfenhancing values [Section 2.1 and Appendix 1]. Intrinsic values include the value placed on a sense of community, affiliation to friends and family, and self-development. Extrinsic values, on the other hand, are values that are contingent upon the perceptions of others – they relate to envy of 'higher' social strata, admiration of material wealth, or power.

These two classes of value act in opposition. For instance, to the extent that a person considers the intrinsic value of 'community feeling' (which includes the desire to improve the world through civic involvement) to be important, they are less likely to place importance on the extrinsic value of 'financial success' (which encompasses an individual's desire for money, possessions and his or her envy of those who have these things). Indeed, these two values are almost perfectly opposed. But note, of course, that this is not to neglect the importance of relative financial success for people who have too little money to live decently [see Section 2.1 for further discussion of this point].

Intrinsic values are associated with concern about bigger-than-self problems, and with corresponding behaviours to help address these problems. Extrinsic values, on the other hand, are associated with lower levels of concern about bigger-than-self problems, and lower motivation to adopt behaviours in line with such concern [Section 2.3 and Appendix 2]. The evidence for this is drawn from diverse studies and investigative approaches, and represents a robust body of research results. So, pursuing the example above, experimental studies show that a strong focus on financial success is associated with: lower empathy, more manipulative tendencies, a higher preference for social inequality and hierarchy, greater prejudice towards people who are different, and less concern about environmental problems. Studies also suggest that when people are placed in resource dilemma games, they tend to be less generous and to act in a more competitive and environmentally-damaging way if they have been implicitly reminded of concerns about financial success.

Of course, extrinsic values can motivate helpful behaviour, but this will only happen where extrinsic goals can be pursued through particular helpful behaviours: for example, buying a hybrid car because it looks 'cool'. The problem is that, in many cases, it is very difficult to motivate helpful behaviours through appeals to extrinsic values, and – even when successful – subsequent behaviour tends to relapse into that which is more consistent with unhelpful extrinsic values. Moreover, such strategies are likely to create collateral damage, because they will also serve to reinforce the perceived importance of extrinsic values, diminishing the importance of intrinsic values and undermining the basis for systemic concern about bigger-than-self problems. So responding to an understanding of the integrated nature of values systems requires that communicators and campaigners should consider both the effects of the values that their communication or campaign will serve to activate (and therefore, as will be discussed, also tend to strengthen) and the knock-on effects of their campaigns on other values (some of which may be helpful, others unhelpful).

A range of factors (such as a person's upbringing, their exposure to social norms in the media, or the values held by their role-models) determine which of the full range of values are particularly important for an individual (and these can change with circumstances). In determining a person's concern about bigger-than-self problems, it seems that what is important is not whether an individual holds extrinsic values per se (this is probably inevitable), but rather the relative importance that he or she attaches to extrinsic as opposed to intrinsic values. So it should not be concluded

Intrinsic values are associated with concern, and corresponding behaviour, about bigger-than-self problems

that bigger-than-self problems will only be properly addressed if extrinsic values are expunged. But it is crucial, from the point of view of concern about bigger-thanself problems, to ask how intrinsic values can be encouraged and extrinsic values discouraged.

Values can be strengthened culturally

Values can be both activated (for example, by encouraging people to think about the importance of particular things), and they can be further strengthened, such that they become easier to activate. It seems that one way in which values become strengthened is through their repeated activation [see Section 2.5]. This may occur, for example, through people's exposure to these values through influential peers, in the media, in education, or through people's experience of public policies. It is sometimes argued that self-interested values are inevitably dominant (perhaps because these are biologically innate, for example). There is mounting evidence that this is not the case [see Section 2.6]. But even if it were the case, this would serve to underscore the importance of ensuring, so far as possible, that cultural cues contribute to activating and strengthening intrinsic values.

An understanding of values must be incorporated into civil society campaigns

As discussed, on the one hand, simply conveying information about bigger-than-self problems is likely to leave many people unmoved – or perhaps even more resistant to change. On the other hand, appeals to values that are in opposition to the emergence of widespread concern about bigger-than-self problems are likely to contribute to further strengthening these values culturally. What alternative response might be developed?

This report builds the case that bigger-than-self problems will only be systemically addressed through the conjunction of:

  • An understanding of the effect of cultural values upon people's motivation to change their own behaviour or to demand change from political and business leaders.
  • An understanding of the range of factors that activate and strengthen some values rather than others.
  • Widespread public debate about the ways in which government, business and civil society organisations serve to strengthen particular values through their communications, campaigns and policies.

Frames offer a vehicle for promoting values

This report then brings two streams of research alongside one another: i) studies in social psychology and sociology which examine the importance of particular values in motivating concern about bigger-than-self problems (that is, the work discussed in the section above); and ii) research on the importance of 'frames' as vehicles for working to activate and strengthen helpful values [See Section 3]. Frames are of key importance in thinking about values and how these are activated and strengthened culturally. [Section 3.1 introduces frames.] "Frames", writes the cognitive scientist George Lakoff, "are the mental structures that allow human beings to understand reality – and sometimes to create what we take to be reality. [T]hey structure our ideas and concepts, they shape how we reason, and they even impact how we perceive and how we act."

Values can be both activated and they can be further strengthened, such that they become easier to activate Frames are of key importance in thinking about values and how these are activated and strengthened culturally

Some cognitive scientists use the term 'deep frames' to refer to cognitive structures held in long-term memory that contain particular values. They tend to be relatively stable but they are not unchanging or unchangeable.

Work on framing is often misunderstood: it is sometimes assumed that framing is just about 'getting the message right' – as though a particular choice of language can motivate us, en masse, to want to embrace a particular worldview. 'The message' is of course important in activating particular frames, but it is only the beginning [Section 3.2]. Conceptual framing (crafting wording and phrasing to focus on particular issues) will not have an effect unless these messages resonate with a set of deep frames.

So there's an important distinction between processes that lead to the activation of frames, and processes that help to strengthen frames (that is, make frames more easily activated). [This distinction is discussed in the context of values in Section 2.5, and in the context of frames in Section 4.3.]

'Activation' refers to the process of eliciting particular frames. Once culturally established, a deep frame can be activated very easily through the use of just a few words (for example, the phrases 'War on Terror' or 'tax relief' activate deep frames relating to a whole understanding of security or the proper role of government, respectively). What is of particular interest is how deep frames are strengthened – that is, how a deep frame comes to be more easily activated through the use of simple cues. Crucially, activation of a frame through use of particular language is an important way of helping to strengthen it – repeatedly activating a frame has the effect of making it easier to activate. But language doesn't stand alone. It is part and parcel of the institutions and policies that we live with and interact with. Deep frames (and therefore the values that these embody) are activated and strengthened through many aspects of our lived experience – including our experience of living with particular public policies and social institutions.

There is a mutual process by which public policies and social institutions shape our deep frames, which in turn shape our policies and institutions. For example, interacting with particular policies or social institutions such as the electoral system, aid agencies, planning policy, or the national health service, has an effect upon which deep frames come to dominate. Research on policy feedback reveals that – perhaps unsurprisingly – public policy has an impact in shaping dominant public values, which in turn impacts on public support for new policies [Section 3.2].

Deploying an understanding of frames raises profound ethical issues

The power of deep frames to promote particular values-based agendas is well known. It is something to which many political interest groups have responded. For example, George Lakoff argues that American neo-conservatives have assiduously set about establishing "their deepest values into the brains of tens of millions of Americans", by working to strengthen deep frames consistent with their politics. There is some evidence for similar effects in a UK political context [Section 3.2], though not in an analogous party-political way.

An understanding of deep frames can be hugely powerful to political strategists attempting to build public support for their programmes. Unfortunately, the way in which this understanding is deployed is not always transparent, and this lack of transparency may be seen to serve the interests of those designing these programmes: while deep frames provide a set of extremely powerful tools, working

Deep frames (and therefore the values that these embody) are activated and strengthened through many aspects of our lived experience

with them can be seen as manipulative – and it is undoubtedly the case that this perception is sometimes justified.

But that is not to suggest that framing can be exposed and then ignored – any more than an understanding of the importance of values in motivating public concern about bigger-than-self problems can be ignored. We think, inescapably, in terms of frames, and any communication therefore necessarily conveys a set of frames – whether it does so deliberately or inadvertently. In the same way, any public policy creates expectations on the part of a citizen – an understanding about their role and that of government, for example – and this, too, serves to activate and strengthen particular deep frames. There is no such thing as value-neutral policy.

So deep frames won't go away – they structure our thinking, and will probably continue to be deployed by political interest groups of all political persuasions. How, therefore, should civil society organisations respond to an understanding of the importance of deep frames? Two responses are needed:

  • Civil society organisations should champion public scrutiny of, and debate about, the role of deep frames in activating and strengthening particular values culturally, and the consequences of this.
  • Employing utmost transparency, civil society organisations should deploy an understanding of deep frames in their own public-interest communications and campaigns, thus helping to strengthen values that will leave society better positioned to tackle bigger-than-self problems. In doing so, these organisations should take scrupulous care to explain to their audience what deep frames a communication or campaign is intended to activate (and therefore strengthen), and why this is important.

Examples of frames that may be important in tackling bigger-than-self problems

In this report, three pairs of deep frames [Section 3.5] are presented that seem likely to be of significance in influencing the cultural importance accorded to the helpful values discussed earlier. Each example was developed by drawing, in part, on the specific survey items used to establish these values [these survey items are presented in detail in Appendix 2].

In time, important frames will need to be identified and validated through empirical methods. To conduct detailed frame analysis would be a major undertaking, beyond the current scope of this project (Appendix 3 outlines some of the techniques that would need to be deployed in the course of such analysis). It is for this reason that this section draws on the judgment of experienced frame analysts. Future work would deepen an understanding of the way in which the frames that are highlighted here – and others that are overlooked – are used in public debate. However, for current purposes – to demonstrate the importance of incorporating an understanding of deep frames into civil society communications and campaigns – this less rigorous approach is adequate.

These three pairs of frames are summarised as follows:

'Self-interest' versus 'common-interest' frame [Section 3.5.1]

According to the self-interest frame, individuals inevitably and properly pursue their own self-interest, and this interest is to be assessed primarily through individual cost-benefit calculations conducted in economic terms.

There is no such thing as value-neutral policy

There is an analogy between the individual and the nation-state. Nation states will inevitably, and rightly, operate in their own economic self-interest and there is no scope for the morality of shared wealth in international relations. International alliances are therefore inherently unstable, and will begin to break down as soon as the national interests of individual states begin to diverge.

In contrast, the common-interest frame views individuals as inherently concerned about both themselves and others, and the value that they place on these things cannot be fully captured in economic terms. People, other living things and nature have an inherent value that is irreducible to economic value. Freedom is to be assessed through the extent to which people are unconstrained in developing as human beings in the manner they desire. Individual nation states are part of an international community with many shared dependencies and responsibilities. Note that these two frames include two dimensions that are conceptually distinct, but which are very closely associated psychologically: the extent to which people value common interest above self-interest, and the extent to which such interests are to be assessed in economic terms. Of course, conceptually, it's perfectly possible to value common interest and to assess this interest economically. But for psychological reasons [discussed in Section 3.5.1] a deep frame that conveys the importance of self-interest is also likely to establish the importance of assessing this interest in economic terms.

'Strict father' versus 'nurturant parent' frame [Section 3.5.2]

George Lakoff suggests that there is a direct correspondence between models of family and models of a nation. In particular, he highlights two different ideals for the family – the strict father and the nurturant parent family, and he suggests that these two different models produce deeply contrasting views on individual freedom and the role of government. These two concepts are of course key in Western society, and comprise important frames in relation to action on bigger-than-self problems.

The strict father frame emphasises the role of government in exercising authority and control, of establishing moral order, commanding obedience, and punishing dissent. It views social support for people who are less fortunate as morally dubious, because people's misfortunes arise as a result of their own lack of discipline and morality. By comparison, the nurturant parent frame stresses the role of government in ensuring social justice (built upon empathy for everyone) and responsibility towards others.

Although these frames were developed as a result of analysis of the deeply partisan American political context, it is nonetheless important to explore them in a UK context: the strict father frame is still of great importance in UK political thought. These frames underscore the importance of conceptual metaphors for understanding political visions. Conceptual metaphors project a frame that we know well (for example, 'family' or 'battle') on to something more contested ('the nation' or one's career trajectory) [Section 3.3]). Adaptation of these frames to a UK political context would necessarily be less partisan – for example, elements of progressive thinking from both left and right are found in variants of the nurturant parent frames.

'Elite governance' versus 'participative democracy' frame [Section 3.5.3]

The elite governance frame holds that political power is properly consolidated in the hands of elites. People cannot be trusted to solve their own problems through deliberative means: strong leaders must take control and act on their behalf. It is important to note that this frame is quite powerful among some sections of the environment movement – with some environmentalists openly questioning whether democracy can respond to environmental problems with sufficient speed.

In contrast, according to the participative democracy frame, citizens hold political power, and should exert their influence through effective organisation. The government is of the people, by the people, and for the people – the question becomes one of how to make citizen participation in democratic process more effective.

Implications for how civil society organisations work

An understanding of values and framing has far-reaching implications for how civil society organisations work.

It is crucial that civil society campaigners and communicators grasp the importance of values and also of frames (as vehicles for promoting particular values). An understanding of values and frames opens up opportunities for important new campaigns and collaborations. First, it implies that civil society organisations should develop an explicit awareness of the values that their campaigns serve to activate and therefore strengthen, and then strive for complete transparency in acknowledging that they are working to promote these values [Section 4.1]. Having achieved such transparency, civil society organisations should then encourage other organisations (government and business) to work towards similar openness. Only in this way can civil society organisations begin to work to safeguard against the tacit and potentially manipulative use of deep frames, and to begin to open up public scrutiny of, and debate about, cultural values, the influence of these, and the way in which they are shaped.

Civil society organisations should also work towards embodying the values that they seek to promote through their communications and campaigns in the way in which these activities are themselves conducted [Section 4.2]. Even if a campaign is unsuccessful, it will have impacts on the prevalence of particular values and deep frames – because people will see the campaign materials and unconsciously respond to the deep frames that these enshrine.

Of course, this strategy can be pursued in parallel to more issue-specific campaigning [Section 4.3]. Moreover, an understanding of values and frames points to new opportunities for potentially powerful collaborations across organisations working on disparate issues: there will be common interest to promote values that will help build public demand for action on a wide range of bigger-than-self problems. [Some of these opportunities are discussed in Section 4.4.] So, for example, a wide range of organisations could partner on a campaign to limit commercial advertising, recognising that there is an extensive body of research showing that increased exposure to commercial advertising increases the prevalence of materialistic values, which are in turn antagonistic to public concern about a wide range of bigger-than-self problems.

Values are also shaped by people's experience of public policies and of interacting with public and private institutions. For this reason, any piece of public policy will have both material impacts (the effect of the policy in directly changing the outside world) and cognitive impacts (the effect of the policy on citizen's values). This is related to a phenomenon, well-known in political science, called 'policy feedback'. Policy feedback refers to the influence of people's experience of public policy upon their values and, in turn, the demands they make on the decision-makers they elect [see Section 4.5 for further discussion]. It is not sufficient, therefore, to examine the impact of communications upon cultural values: we must also examine the impacts of public policy and public institutions. Public debates about policy should properly reflect not just the likely material impacts of these, but also the 'cognitive' impacts – the effect a policy has on people's values. [There are a range of implications of policy feedback, discussed in Section 4.5.]

Civil society organisations should develop an explicit awareness of the values that their campaigns serve to activate and therefore strengthen Values are also shaped by people's experience of public policies

Ideally, both systemic and specific objectives can be optimally and simultaneously pursued through appeal to the same set of helpful values – although this is not inevitably the case. Responding to an understanding of the importance of values and framing may entail the need for trade-offs: it may sometimes be the case that specific campaign goals are best delivered through appeal to frames that serve to undermine more systemic change (for example, through appeals to social status or financial success). One key implication from this study is therefore that civil society organisations should become far more aware of such potential trade-offs, and work to respond to them in a strategic way. [Trade-offs are discussed in detail in Section 4.6.]

Campaigns may serve inadvertently to strengthen unhelpful frames in several ways: through particular communications approaches (for example, what language do they use?), through the mode of engagement with their target audience (for example, how do they encourage people to act? Do they embody principles of public participation?), and through the policies that they demand (for example, if these policies were adopted, what values or deep frames would people's experience of those policies help to convey?).

As has been discussed, an understanding of values and deep frames must prompt circumspection before invoking unhelpful frames in the course of motivating particular helpful behaviours. This means that it is short-sighted to conduct audience segmentation exercises and then tailor communications and campaigns to appeal to the values that dominate within a particular segment irrespective of whether or not these values are socially and environmentally helpful. But audience segmentation is still important in order to better understand particular audience segments, with a view to better engaging them in debate about the implications of values and frames, and in order to effectively work to strengthen helpful values [see Section 4.7].

Finally, it is crucially important that all this weighty discussion about values and deep frames should not obscure the importance of fun, compelling, inspiring communications. Many communication organisations have developed particular expertise in this area – and this is expertise that is needed. But care should be taken to ensure that enthusiastic pursuit of particular communication approaches does not lead campaigners to neglect the importance of examining the values which these communications serve to activate and strengthen

Note: Debate relating to this report can be found at the Common Cause Working Group website, where the Working Group encourages you to contribute your own views.

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