University of Earth
Projects Overview (Explanations)
Human Values Project (Explanations)

Significance: Previous, parallel and related initiatives

Human Values Project


1. Previous editions of this Encyclopedia

For the values section of the first edition of this book, prepared during the period 1972-76, efforts were made to trace comprehensive listings of values. Those that were found were either very short or explicitly oriented to one country. This situation had not changed at the time of preparation of the second edition (1983-86).

2. World Order Models Project

This world wide project, initiated in the late 1960s, has been specifically concerned with identifying values appropriate to a more desirable world order. Four such values, or value clusters, were identified. These are discussed in a following note.

3. Goals for Mankind Project

The Club of Rome undertook a study of the goals for mankind envisaged in different regions of the world. The project was directed by Ervin Laszlo and resulted in several volumes (Laszlo, 1977).

4. Values and Lifestyles (VALS) Project

This project initiated in the USA in 1978 has specifically focused on the identification of values in American society, notably in relation to the segmentation of consumer markets. The project has generated many publications and stimulated the production of many others. Because of the methodology of the project, no specific lists of values appear to have been produced. The emphasis appears to have been on the manner in which differences in values (and related concepts) can be used to identify a limited number of market segments. The resulting clusters, or value complexes, are discussed in a following note.

4. European Value Systems Study Group

In 1980 an international group of researchers coordinated by pastoral-theologian Jan Kerkofs of the University of Louvain and sociologist Ruud de Moor of Tilburg University initiated a major study of European values. This was done through the European Value Systems Study Group set up for that purpose. The group undertook, with collaborating bodies, a survey involving 12,463 responses from ten countries. The results of the study were summarized in a publication by Jean Stoetzel (1983).

The survey covered the EEC countries and Spain. The collaborating bodies were Gallup International, in cooperation with DATA SA (Spain) and Institut für Demoskopie (Germany) and Faits et Opinions (France). The questionnaire contained several value domains (religion, ethics, work, politics, family, etc), with approximately 1,200 interviews in each country. The initial intention was to produce the single comparative study noted above. The data proved to be so rich that it was decided to produce national reports on the study by researchers in each country.

Researchers all over the world showed interest in the questionnaire which was subsequently used in more than 30 countries. This proved to be a unique initiative not only because of the number of countries involved but because of the range of values. The result is a large database on values permitting comparative studies. The data for Western European countries has been deposited with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Data Archive at the University of Essex.

In 1988 plans were made for a second questionnaire to permit study of value change over time. Where possible the same questions were to be used, modifying those which had been subject to methodological criticism. New questions were added around the core domains of religion, family and politics. It was intended that the field work would be undertaken in 1990.

When the plans were discussed at the Budapest conference on values in 1988, a proposal was made to establish a World Values Working Group to coordinate the extension of the study to non-European countries.

Prior to the 1981 survey the focus of much contemporary social research had been on economic and political indicators and on measures of quality of life. There had been little international comparative research into people's values and value systems. Attitudes towards specific issues had often been surveyed but there was a lack of systematically collected data on underlying values and beliefs.

The 1981 survey stimulated a rich academic literature, totalling over 72 books and papers. Numerous other publications made use of the findings. The results of the survey have been widely commented in the media.

The methodology of the study is such that there is some difficulty in identifying values in the manner intended here. The study does not seem to permit questions of the kind "to how many values are Europeans sensitive ?" It seems to be designed to respond to questions of the kind "is job satisfaction important to you ?" The results of the study are therefore highly dependent on the value domains selected and the values selected for comment in the questionnaire. The range of values is therefore predefined by the researchers to a large degree.

6. Ethical Values for the 21st Century

For one of its programme activities for 1986-87, UNESCO requested the Club of Rome to undertake an international investigation into the ethical values of 21st century man in the light of the rapid and sometimes violent changes that have affected society in recent decades. The purpose of the study (UNESCO, 1987), based on 41 contributions, is to guide curriculum developers, educators and educational administrators through the problems of ethical values and to encourage further investigation. The study does not endeavour to identify systematically the range of ethical values in existence or desirable.

7. International Future Survey

With the sponsorship of UNESCO, the organization Futuribles International conducted a worldwide survey of eminent persons from varying geopolitical, socio-cultural and ideological backgrounds in the world of culture of science. On section of the questionnaire asked respondents to identify the "twenty individual and collective values to which people in your region attach the greatest importance." A report was produced in 1987 on the analysis of the 180 replies received (UNESCO, 1987).

From Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential

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