There are around 2.6 million co-operative enterprises worldwide, with a combined membership of around one billion people. The beauty of co-ops is that they have a global code of values and principles, so tend to be interested not just in business (as usual), but in re-imagining the economy to be fairer and more sustainable. The 1st July was the 95th annual International Day of Co-operatives, a global celebration of co-ops backed by the United Nations.
Higher wellbeing is embraced by researchers and politicians as a better goal for society than GDP growth. Until now, it has been mainly centre-right governments that have pushed this agenda in Europe – from Nicolas Sarkozy to David Cameron and Angela Merkel. The United Arab Emirates recently appointed a “happiness minister”. Is “wellbeing” used as a new goal to make people forget about injustice and inequalities?
Much of our work over the last couple of years has focused on the likely consequences of the ‘perception gap’. Most people (85% of citizens in Greater Manchester, for example) place more importance on ‘compassionate’ values of community, social justice and equality than they do on values of wealth, success or social status. But it’s also the case that most people (75% across Greater Manchester) underestimate the importance that others place on these values. Our work finds that this ‘perception gap’ is greatest among people who self-identify as ‘liberals’.
With a month to go before mayoral elections in England, there is one overarching question that voters can ask of their mayoral candidates: will they organise their work around the values that citizens in these cities and city-regions hold to be most important, and will they do so explicitly – testifying publicly to the shared importance of these values?
In 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which recognised happiness as a “fundamental human goal.” The following year the International Day of Happiness was born and from 2013 onwards it’s been celebrated every year on the 20th March. Unsurprisingly it’s got us all talking about how we can be happier, individually and as a society
An understanding of values could help to heal the divisions that have been deepened by the EU Referendum, pointing to a crucial role for our cultural organisations. Working at the University of Bath, one of us (Paul) has studied values data from across the European Union and has found that people who attach importance to the group of values called “Security” are likely to be the least trustful of the European Union.
You may have seen in our previous blog post that Common Cause Foundation are working at Manchester Museum on a programme of work to explore how the museum can convey a deeper appreciation of the values that most people in Greater Manchester share. I’m pleased to say that last month we kicked off our work in a ‘big’ way with a Big Saturday at Manchester Museum!
English people in the social and environmental movements often don’t like talking about English identity. It seems to be a source of embarrassment. When I speak to friends about Englishness, I find that many like to shift the conversation subtly onto the safer ground of Britishness. But there’s an irony here. This easy elision from Englishness to Britishness could only ever be sustained by those living in England. Where it’s unconscious, it’s an elision that arises through a sense of being numerically, economically and culturally dominant. Yet it is those who feel most uncomfortable about Englishness, and who appeal most readily to Britishness, who are also the first to consciously reject any possible basis for dominance.
Sometimes, you just need confidence. Ask yourself this: do I ever feel a bit lonely, a bit different if I care about social justice, or about what we are doing to the environment? If you do, then it is not because you are alone. It is because you are made to feel alone. This is what I have learned from Common Cause Foundation.
Promoting public demand for a more caring society