Common Cause: The Case for Working with our Cultural Values
Author(s): Tom Crompton
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.
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