What Matters to Americans: Social, Political and Economic Values

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Societies are complex entities with competing and conflicting and supporting and reinforcing characteristics. This study, part of a multiyear project sponsored by the Australian Research Council (ARC) in conjunction with the University of Technology, Sydney and Melbourne Business School, seeks to chart the social, economic and political preferences of society, using a unique methodology that provides us with a more accurate and robust picture of how individuals, as citizens, make fundamental trade-offs about things of material interest to their society. The study was conducted in the United States of America with more than 2,800 participants, chosen to match the profile of the voting age population. Similar studies were conducted in the UK, Australia and Germany, providing data on more than 9,000 individuals.1 Examined were 16 categories of general social, economic and political issues that ranged from the local (for example, crime and public safety) to the global (for example, global security) along with 113 sub-issues that also varied from the local (for example, public transport and children’s schooling) to the global (for example, nuclear nonproliferation and third world debt). This information was linked to data on the population’s religious and political activities, its general demographics, and donating and volunteering activities with civil society organizations.
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