Mancunians are more likely to think it is important to be honest, kind and care about social issues than the average UK citizen, yet falsely believe their neighbours prioritise wealth and social status, according to new research published today.
Commissioned before the terrorist attack on Manchester last week, the research offers further insight into the outpouring of compassion by the people of Greater Manchester witnessed nationally and internationally in response to the attack. Furthermore it gives the city insight as to how these values can and must be sustained for the future benefit and cohesion of the city-region.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, says: “Greater Mancunians are compassionate and naturally generous, so it’s no surprise to see this reflected in the survey. From the Manchester traders who took an historic stand against slave picked cotton in the 19th century, to our refusal to walk past people huddled in doorways in the 21st century, values of social justice, generosity and compassion lie at the heart of our city-region. However, while it’s clear that these are values we all share, our perceptions of each other are very different. We need to explore ways to bridge that gap, challenge these perceptions and believe in each other, so together we can build an even greater society.”
The research published today by Common Cause Foundation reveals that the majority of people in Greater Manchester, though holding ‘compassionate’ values to be the most important, overestimate the importance that others place on ‘selfish’ values. Across the region, 85% of people attach greater importance to ‘compassionate’ values – such as social justice, environmental protection, forgiveness and honesty – than they do to ‘selfish’ values, such as wealth and social status. Relative to an average UK citizen, the people of Greater Manchester are significantly more likely to attach importance to ‘compassionate’ values (and to attach lower importance to ‘selfish’ values).
Yet at the same time the people of Greater Manchester underestimate one another. 75% of people think that a typical fellow citizen of Greater Manchester holds ‘compassionate’ values to be less important than they do themselves; and 65% of people think that a typical fellow citizen holds ‘selfish’ values to be more important than they do themselves.
This misperception about others’ values may be of great importance: people who under-estimate the importance that others place on ‘compassionate’ values feel less connected to their community, are less concerned about social or environmental challenges facing the city region, and are less supportive of devolving decision-making powers to Greater Manchester. Closing this ‘perception gap’ could be of huge benefit to people across the whole of the city region.
Common Cause Foundation surveyed 1184 people across Greater Manchester and are working with communications agency Creative Concern to interpret the results and explore their importance for the people of Greater Manchester. Common Cause Foundation is already working with the Manchester Museum to help show how organisations across Greater Manchester can work to promote a wider understanding of the importance that the people of Greater Manchester place on ‘compassionate’ values.
Nick Merriman, Director of Manchester Museum, says: “We have an opportunity to convey to people the simple truth that most citizens of Greater Manchester care deeply for other people and the places that we live – much more than we currently imagine. Cultural organisations can show the way in beginning to communicate this truth – and Manchester Museum has begun to work in this way. But this is a good-news story that needs to be told by businesses and public institutions across Greater Manchester.”
- 93% of older people (55-64 years) attach greater importance to ‘compassionate’ values than ‘selfish’ values. Among younger people (18-24 years) this figure is 74%
- 89% of women attach greater importance to ‘compassionate’ values than to ‘selfish’values. Among men this figure is 82%.
- These results hold across the boroughs of Greater Manchester, with little variation in the high importance that people place on ‘compassionate’ values. These shared priorities are of crucial importance at a time when, with the appointment of a new mayor, we can begin to shape a more caring city region.
The Common Cause Foundation has recommendations about how to encourage collective engagement and action for positive change:
- We can begin to work and socialise with people across the city-region as though they care most deeply about the wellbeing of others and the places we live – in most cases this will be the case, and in this way we can help deepen awareness of this simple truth.
- As employees or managers, teachers or public servants, business people or charity workers, we can each help our respective organisations to change assumptions about what motivates the people with whom they interact: helping to convey the insight that most people across Greater Manchester hold ‘compassionate’ values to be most important.
We can each contribute to one of the many initiatives that are currently underway across Greater Manchester to care for others, the places we live, and the wider world. Common Cause Foundation and Creative Concern have developed a list of such opportunities.
To find out more visit: http://valuesandframes.org/greatermanchester/