Our values help shape what we believe is desirable, important or worthy of striving for in our lives. They guide and inform the ways we act and what we think. They influence how we interact with other people and the more-than-human world. They are influenced by our experiences in our lives.
Source: Milton Rokeach’s book
The Nature of Human Values (1973)
Extrinsic values refer to values such as ‘wealth’, ‘social recognition’, ‘social status’, ‘conformity’ and ‘ambition’. They rely on external approval or rewards to be recognised. We see these types of values championed a lot in our societies.
Intrinsic values refer to values such as ‘broadmindedness’, ‘equality’, ‘social justice’, ‘forgiveness’, ‘community’, ‘creativity’ and ‘responsibility’. They are understood as being inherently rewarding. Intrinsic values are associated with greater concern about social and environmental issues, and greater motivation to engage in various forms of civic action.
We use the term cultural influencers to describe anyone who helps to shape and sustain the mainstream culture in which we live. This will include everyone, but particular influence perhaps lies with those who work in the media, advertising, education, health, NGOs, governments, arts and cultural organisations, pop culture, the music industry and sport.
Common Cause exists to help build the foundations needed to shift cultures away from competition, inequality and oppression, and towards regeneration, equity and harmony, by celebrating and elevating the intrinsic values that underpin our care for one another and our living planet.
Common Cause began as a series of reports written by Tom Crompton (who at the time was working for WWF-UK) in collaboration with leading social psychologists (especially Professors Tim Kasser and Greg Maio and John Thøgersen). These reports challenged many of the assumptions underlying environmental campaigning at the time – such as the belief that “simple and painless steps” would provide a foot-in-the-door to transformative behavioural changes, and the repeated centring of financial benefits or social status as a means of encouraging public action. The reports built a picture of an alternative approach to campaigning founded squarely on the role of values as a key factor in shaping human attitudes and behaviours.
Inspired by these reports, a group of campaign and communication staff from diverse NGOs formed an informal steering group and oversaw the publication of “Common Cause: The Case for Working with our Cultural Values”. From here, other organisations stepped forward to help develop and advocate for this thinking – including Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC), which was commissioned by WWF-UK and others to develop and publish the Common Cause Handbook and Common Cause for Nature before going on to develop its own work in this area.
Due to focus expanding beyond issues of solely environmental concern, in 2015, with a grant from WWF-UK, Oliver Smith and Tom Crompton established Common Cause Foundation as an independent not for profit (a Company Limited by Guarantee with an asset lock), with the committed support of our first non-executive directors – Peter Lipman and Halina Ward.
As an independent organisation, our focus continues to evolve. Our pioneering research on people’s perceptions of their fellow citizens’ values has proved to be particularly important, as has our development of collaborations with new kinds of organisations, including arts and cultural organisations and a football club.
I’m a communicator, organiser, writer and creative focusing on culture and systems change to eradicate poverty, inequity, white supremacy and patriarchy, to regenerate the environment and support the transition to a post-capitalist world.
I’m driven by the question of how more people can be supported to understand, think and feel differently about the social and environmental challenges we face, so that they can take action in more effective ways.
I am compelled by the realisation that we cannot expect proportional or lasting responses to today’s profound social and environment challenges to emerge unless these responses are rooted in an understanding of what matters to people, and what shapes what matters to people.
Director of Anthropocene Action
CEO of Surfers Against Sewage
Development Director at Hot or Cool Institute