British participation in the 2017 European Values Study / World Values Survey

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Social Science

Abstract

The European Values Study (EVS) is a large-scale, cross-national, repeated cross-sectional survey research programme on basic human values. It provides insights into the ideas, beliefs, preferences, attitudes, values and opinions of citizens all over Europe. It is a unique investigation into how Europeans think about life, family, work, religion, politics and society.

The EVS started in 1981, when a thousand citizens in each of the European member states of that time were interviewed using standardized questionnaires. The survey has been repeated every nine years in an increasing number of countries. The fourth wave in 2008 covered no fewer than 46 European countries, from Ireland to Azerbaijan and from Portugal to Norway. The fifth wave in 2017 is being run in cooperation with the World Values Survey (which grew out of the EVS) and will extend to scores of countries around the world.

This grant will support British participation in the 2017 EVS/WVS survey.

The central research question is whether values are changing in modern European society, to what extent and in what direction. Values are basic convictions that are prior to, and help to organize, more particular attitudes, actions and moral judgments. The question of how and why values are changing is important because values determine what people care about, with potentially profound impact on society and politics.

The questionnaire covers topics that include national identity, culture, diversity, insecurity, support for democracy, tolerance of foreigners and ethnic minorities, support for gender equality, the role of religion, the impact of globalization, attitudes towards the environment, work, family, politics, subjective well-being, and so on. The questionnaire also contains items on issues of personal and civic ethics, from smoking indoors to suicide. The overarching topic of the current EVS wave is 'Social Solidarity and European Identity'.

Many of the items replicate those from previous surveys, thus enabling analysis of change over time on the key dimensions. With the addition of the new wave, the EVS/WVS study will be a unique source of trend data for the past four decades. The range of potential research questions that can be addressed by scholars and research users is very wide, involving any of the topics covered, using either this dataset on its own or in conjunction with previous waves, and looking either at Great Britain alone, comparisons within Europe, or global cross-national comparisons.

The EVS allows researchers to investigate whether economic harmonisation is accompanied by cultural and ideological integration. Three and a half decades on from the first survey in 1981, the questions are as important as ever. The benefits of transnationalism are disputed; the impact of globalisation in an open market has been strongly felt, and debates continue over the nature of national identity and the consequences of cultural diversity. Support for both the European project and the development of multicultural societies has wavered, divided to some extent along social fault lines defined by region, generation, education and class.

Planned Impact

The values surveys carried out by the EVS/WVS are the largest non-commercial, cross-national, time series investigation of human beliefs and values ever executed, currently including interviews with almost half a million respondents. These surveys are the only academic study covering the full range of global variations, from very poor to very rich countries, in all of the world's major cultural zones.

The surveys seek to help researchers and policy makers understand changes in the beliefs, values and motivations of people throughout the world. Thousands of political scientists, sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists and economists have used these data to analyse such topics as economic development, democratization, religion, gender equality, social capital, and subjective well-being. These data have also been widely used by government officials, international organisations, journalists and students.

The EVS specifically has been widely used by policy makers (especially those in European institutions) and has a wide following among politicians, public administrators, church leaders, journalists, teachers, private sector managers and others. The best demonstration that this interest is more than casual is that funding of the EVS has not come entirely or even largely from academic bodies. Sponsors for the current and previous waves in other countries include charitable trusts and foundations, government ministries, companies, religious organisations and private individuals.

WVS findings are valuable for policy makers seeking to build civil society and democratic institutions in developing countries. Groups at the World Bank have analysed the linkages between cultural factors and economic development.

The discussion of values has been made especially topical by the arrival of substantial numbers of non-European immigrants and the development of societies that are multicultural (in fact if not in self-conception). These developments have provoked debates on the consequences of value diversity and over the source of cultural and national identity. Furthermore, EU enlargement and integration have fuelled nationalistic sentiments and movements. The issues of identity and the survival of national cultures are high on the public agenda in many countries. Whether the European project and large scale immigration will encourage cultural and ethnic conflict or accommodation is one of the most important issues of our time.

The new data will offer an excellent resource for conducting research on the new societal challenges, as well as for grounding significant political decisions. The connections between values and economic, social and political change have been explored by researchers around the world.

Publications

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Description This grant supported British participation in the fifth wave of the European Values Study (EVS), which was conducted in conjunction with the seventh wave of the World Values Survey (WVS). The EVS and WVS are large-scale, cross-national, repeated cross-sectional survey research programmes on basic human values.

The survey was conducted in Great Britain in the first half of 2018. The data are being checked, cleaned and weighted. The dataset will be released by the EVS in mid-2019.
Exploitation Route The geographical scope of the EVS makes it possible to look at any country on the continent and to distinguish value patterns in distinctive regions. The data allow us to
study patterns of social, political, moral and religious values across Europe, to investigate how far such values are shared cross-nationally, and to see whether these values are converging or diverging. Underlying these issues is the search for a possible European identity in the context of political upheaval and broader trends related to modernisation, individualisation and secularisation.

Different scholars take different perspectives on this very rich data source, with recent publications discussing religious beliefs and practices in contemporary Europe, families and values in Europe, social values, prejudice and solidarity in the European Union, voluntary organisations and the development of civil society, European values at the turn of the
millennium, and civic morality in stable and new democracies.

The discussion of values has been made especially topical by the arrival of substantial numbers of non-European immigrants and the development of societies that are multicultural (in fact if not in self-conception). These developments have provoked debates on the consequences of value diversity and over the source of cultural and national identity.
Furthermore, EU enlargement and integration have fuelled nationalistic sentiments and movements. The issues of identity and the survival of national cultures are high on the public agenda in many countries. Whether the European project and large scale immigration will encourage cultural and ethnic conflict or accommodation is one of the most important issues of our time.

The new data will offer an excellent resource for conducting research on the new societal challenges, as well as for grounding significant political decisions. The connections between values and economic, social and political change have been explored by researchers around the world.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other

URL https://europeanvaluesstudy.eu/
 
Description Invited presentation to financial services consultants 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Accenture Financial Services organised an evening event for their employees based in the UK and Ireland labelled Re:Think 3.0, at which six speakers (also including the broadcaster Jon Snow) were invited to give thought-provoking talks. The theme was 'Society of the future': what changes are we beginning to see today that will impact the way we interact with the world in the future? Will those changes be for better or for worse? My talk, entitled 'From bird flocks to culture shocks', touched on value change and religious change in contemporary society. The event took place in the main BAFTA auditorium (on Piccadilly) on 15 November 2017. More than 200 people attended; according to the organisers, the feedback on the day was extremely positive.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Invited presentation to the Pew Research Center in Washington, DC 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact The Pew Research Center is an important think tank and survey sponsor based in Washington, DC. I was invited to present my work on 'belief, practice and religious socialisation' to a group of their staff who work in related areas. The talk took place on 23 February 2018, at their main office. It was part of a continuing relationship that has been built up over a number of years.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018