People feel a deep sense of unease about some of the changes shaping British society. This is according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's (JRF) consultation on modern-day social evils, released today (20 April). Respondents said that they felt our society has become more greedy and selfish, at a cost to our sense of community. They said that we no longer share a set of common values and that we have lost our 'moral compass'.
Over 100 years after Joseph Rowntree named his evils as poverty, war, slavery, intemperance, the opium trade, impurity and gambling, the JRF held a consultation to find out what people thought were today's social evils. More than 3,500 people contributed to the consultation, which took place between July and September last year. We spoke to a wide range of people, from opinion-formers to people whose voices are not normally heard.
The JRF found people are concerned about how we seem to live our lives. Individualism, greed, a decline of community and a decline of values were among the social evils that worried them the most. One participant said: "Everything seems to be based around money and owning things. The more you have, the more successful you are. There's nothing wrong with having enough, but there's pressure on people to go for more and more."
In addition to these concerns, people identified more concrete social evils, some of which were identified by Joseph Rowntree, although they have taken on new forms:
There were also some new social evils not identified by Joseph Rowntree:
Julia Unwin, Director of the JRF, said: "This consultation will help the Foundation to further Joseph Rowntree's mission: to search, demonstrate and influence by undertaking programmes of work on key social policy issues, and through our practical housing and care work. As well as helping to inform our own work, we hope that the views expressed will influence the work of other organisations seeking to address social ills."
More information, and the opportunity to share views, is available at www.socialevils.org.uk