Latest Posts

Developing Discourse or Stunted Growth? Taking the Sustainable out of the Sustainable Development Goals

Where does poverty come from?

Whatever your answer, it’ll shape what you think we should do about it. If you think it’s natural, for example, then perhaps all we can do about it is alleviate suffering rather than get rid of it. Perhaps we shouldn’t do anything about it at all.

Your answer will subsequently have an impact on how effective you are at addressing poverty. Will you introduce incentive schemes because you believe poor people are just not trying hard enough; or higher taxes for the rich because you believe historically there has been an unfair allocation of resources? Do you reduce or increase social benefits, like unemployment or child benefits?


In other words, the way we ‘frame’ poverty has a direct link with our political response.

It’s worrying, then, that an upcoming report from /The Rules suggests that the understanding of poverty that underpins the Sustainable Development Goals  (SDGs) is faulty. Worrying because the SDGs, which replace the Millenium Development Goals, represent the political response of the entire international community to global poverty. Read more

Strivers and skivers? We’re all in this together 1

The binary rhetoric that currently surrounds the welfare state reflects a deep moral narrative with a crippling social impact. ‘Strivers’ and ‘skivers’ are two sides of the same coin. That coin is shame.

One side represents the deserving, and the other side the undeserving. Rachel Reeves, the UK Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary, recently said that: “We [the Labour Party] are not the party of people on benefits.” She faced some criticism for these words, but these are messages we hear daily, from government and opposition alike.

We’re here for hard-working families. We’re here for the taxpayer.

In this narrative, employment equals worth, while unemployment casts you into the world of the untouchables.

Economic policies are created around this notion of worth. Unemployment must be a choice—you’re shirking—so let’s coax you out of it. You don’t need benefits in your first week of unemployment since you should be looking for work. We’ll put sanctions on you if you’re unemployed for too long.

Shame on you for being unemployed. Read more

‘Are You Beach Body Ready’ Petition

There’s a petition at Change​.org you might want to sign:

Protein World is directly targeting individuals, aiming to make them feel physically inferior to the unrealistic body image of the bronzed model, in order to sell their product. Perhaps not everyone’s priority is having a ‘beach body’ (by the way, what is that?), and making somebody feel guilty for not prioritising it by questioning their personal choices is a step too far. A body’s function is far more intricate and important than looking ‘beach ready’, so in fact it is Protein World who have confused their priorities, if anyone.  The question I would like to pose to whoever gave this advert the go-ahead would be: what is ‘Beach Body Ready’? And who would not be?

Source: Remove ‘Are You Beach Body Ready’ Advertisements · Change​.org

Common Cause Training: Values, Leadership & Social Change

23rd — 26th June 2015

A residential training course in the applied psychology of human motivation for communicators, organisers and leaders of social change

This summer, we’re offering three days of practical and inspiring participatory learning in the beautiful mid-Wales hills. Together, we’ll be using the Common Cause approach to explore the psychology of values and develop tools for applying it to our work. Read more

Rekindling Kindliness: Learning from Hebden Bridge 1

Last week, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation released a report that calls for more kindness in communities, and outlines some ways that helpfulness and support can be encouraged.

It shows that kindness takes different forms,  not all of them equal in their impact, and it looks at a real British community (Hebden Bridge) to make recommendations that can be applied elsewhere.

The report reveals a perverse truth:  most people think that giving help is good, but that receiving or soliciting help is bad.

Vulnerability (exposing a need for help) is seen as the counterweight to dignity (maintaining self-reliance and independence). If we want an antidote to lonely, alienated Britain, it is this psychology we ultimately have to challenge.

Four of a Kind

When talking about kindness, its seems that people tend towards four different orientations.

4 Kinds of Helping - by Bec Sanderson

4 Kinds of Helping by Bec Sanderson, based on ‘Landscapes of Helping: Kindliness in Neighbourhoods and Communities’, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2015

Here we explore what they might mean in terms of values: Read more




Values: 58 Ideas We Live By  is a beautiful deck of cards for exploring who we are, designed by Genis Carreras in collaboration with PIRC.

“Love. Creativity. Enjoyment. Curiosity. Friendship. Purpose. Psychological research shows that we are all driven by the same things — but differ in how we prioritise them. Fifty-eight values guide our lives, shaping who we are, what we do, and ultimately the kind of society we live in.”

Whether you’re just mildly interested in values or a fully fledged Common Cause geek looking for workshop material, this little deck deserves a place in your life…

Support the project and get some cards.

Year in review


Great stuff that we were involved in this year, limited to 140 character snippets, like those  “tweet” things, because we are down with the kids…

Equinet commissioned us to research equality and tolerance in Europe, and we went data mining to pull out some significant trends

Wales was sunny for 3 whole days (!) while we held a Common Cause residential training with a great group of people. Highlights included a spontaneous ceilidh and some extreme frisbee.

Along with nef and FinanceLab we launched Campaign Lab 3: a popular 6-month training programme for civil society campaigners, activists and organisers.

We were part of a major piece of research into the way that charities communicate by WWF-UK and Scope called No Cause is an Island.

We teamed up with Equally Ours and Counterpoint to explore how Human Rights are framed in British newspapers: report coming soon!

We helped out with the ‘Communities with a Common Cause’ Action Learning Programme in Scotland which was recognised with a UNESCO Outstanding Flagship Project award.

We co-hosted our first Values & Education conference with Character Scotland and Lifeworlds Learning, bringing 60+ researchers and educationalists together to discuss practice and policy.

LGBTI advocacy group ILGA Europe brought us to Brussels to host 3 days of training on equality framing and campaigning. Something we hope to build on in 2015.

We helped the Common Cause international network to grow, with new groups in Canada, Germany and the Netherlands and plans underway for a dedicated Common Cause organisation in Australia!

We have also done loads of great work with a variety of people and organisations and we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for it. We did start making a list of all the people we would like to thank but there were so many of you it got a little long — rest assured we loved working with you and are thankful for your help and support.

7 Blogging Highlights

  1. We need to talk about alienation!: The dirty word that’s due a comeback…
  2. Visualising values: Introducing some amazing design work from Genis Carreras (that has since been made into some beautiful values cards).
  3. Shared ownership: Why democratic processes can make us all better people.
  4. On having more than two sides: An important debate about the psychology research that Common Cause is based on.
  5. Communication is conservation: Some key recommendations following the publication of the Common Cause for Nature report.
  6. Why you accidently called your teacher ‘mum’: Insights from anthropology work on Relational Models.
  7. The power of hashtags: A critical look at social media in campaigns like #BringBackOurGirls.

Coming next year

Some of the things we’ll be doing include:

A second edition of the Common Cause Handbook.

Working with several UK conservation NGOs we’re launching the second phase of Common Cause for Nature.

With Genis Carreras, we’re launching a Kickstarter for a set of beautiful value-graphic cards.

Along with FinanceLab and nef we’re hoping to launch Campaign Lab 4.

In collaboration with Simon Harris, and funding permitting, we’ll be launching Culture Lab: a 6-month action learning programme for arts and culture leaders in Wales.

Having just got started with the first few seminars, we’ll be continuing work on a Welsh Government supported Food Values project with the Organic Centre Wales.


Ant, Bec, Elena, Jamie, Kevin, Ralph, Rich, Tanya & Tim.

Hate racism, love Finland:
10 ways values link to prejudices across Europe

What do you value in life?

If you ask anybody this question, there’s surprising similarity in what people say. You can generally put people’s values into four broad groups:

  1. Change & autonomy values, such as creativity and freedom,are linked to tolerance and comfort with difference. (Openness-to-change values)
  2. Care & empathy values are all about concern for others and the environment, equality and tolerance. (Self-transcendence, or intrinsic values)
  3. Stability & security values, such as social order and respect for tradition, are associated with maintenance of the status quo and discomfort with other groups. (Conservation values)
  4. Power & competition values are linked to prejudice, discrimination, materialism and concern about status, self and money. (Self-enhancement, or extrinsic values)

We all hold all of these values, but to different degrees. These four groups work in opposition to each other as in the diagram below. Care/empathy values are opposite power/competition, and change/autonomy values oppose stability/security values. This means we’re unlikely to value one set highly if we value the other set highly. (Read more about how this works here!)

values_four_way Read more