The future of values

The future of values

Values are often seen as normative laws, which do not change. The time series research conducted by the Foundation for Future Studies shows, however, that values are constantly changing in society. Various political, economic and sociocultural aspects change German attitudes. Nevertheless, trends can be identified that tell us how the ‘social’ in our society will be defined in the future. As part of its research into values, the Foundation has long been asking the question: How do we want to live in the future?

In the context of the current crisis, the analyses show, for example, a renaissance in prosocial values. In the period between 2008 and 2012, approval of social justice, responsibility and helpfulness increased in each case by more than ten percentage points. In particular, the family (of choice) exemplifies the shift towards quality of life, as the approval rating for values like well-being, human warmth and friendship increased by 15 percentage points during this period. It can be seen therefore that during periods of uncertainty, people look for stability and the era of the ‘me generation’ is coming to a close. The future will be characterised by a community based on reciprocity. Germans want to live in a ‘responsible society’, where trust, reliability and responsibility guarantee cohesion in society.

Another key attribute will be security. This should not be reduced only to its ‘internal’ and ‘external’ context but should also be considered in terms of its social component – the tradition of the German social state places this aspect at the heart of social discourse where it will also be in future. Globalisation also brings with it clashes between different value systems – openness and tolerance to ‘others’ will increase in importance as a result, a trend that can be discerned from surveys on value-focused ‘educational goals’.

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