It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year, so this seasonal special edition is a jam-packed stocking full of goodies – and in the spirit of Christmas presents, we’ve balanced out a few thoughtfully chosen, valuable links with a healthy dose of stuff you don’t really need.
This week we feature the concept of ‘political orphans’ in our Engagement Hub, while in Behaviour Change we ponder what nudge lessons Christmas itself can teach us. We’ve also got a Values Lab fit for the festive season as we find out who’s more likely to say Father Christmas or Santa Claus.
And it wouldn’t be Christmas without a mulled wine-induced post-dinner retreat into the parlour game hovel that is Charlie’s Attic. This week it features the best places to find people called Holly and Ivy, our second glitter article in a row, and a look back at the year in political quotes.
Christmas – the ultimate behaviour change success story?
Christmas is a bumper period for behaviour change campaigns – we’re used to seeing messages about drink driving, like #howitfeels from Essex Police this year, being ramped up around this time of year, as well as an array of charity campaigns aiming to attract as much Christmas generosity to good causes as possible.
We’re harking back a few years to this canny assessment from comms people Claremont, about how Christmas itself can be a case study in effective behaviour change techniques. As the article identifies, Christmas has been shaped by at least three common nudge approaches. Firstly, it piggybacks on existing opportunities, by coming at a time when people are desperate for a pick-me-up. Secondly, it makes use of celebrity endorsement – in this case, 19th century celeb Prince Albert’s decision to place a tree in the royal home. And thirdly, it uses word-of-mouth (you’ll have to click the link for more on this one, but suffice to say, the myth of the flying reindeer involved a Chinese Whisper or two!)
With Christmas bringing to mind Charles Dickens and his many parentless protagonists, we look this week at a piece on ‘political orphans’. The article is a few weeks old, and we only stumbled on it recently (big thanks to Edward Andersson for sending it!). But it looks at transience, and how this is harming engagement. In particular, the piece describes research suggesting those who have not left their home towns are more likely to be ashamed to go high school reunions. “If you want to play in this economy, you have to be transient,” the blog explains, suggesting this has had a harmful knock-on for local democracy.
It’s a profound point, and one that relates directly to the concept of ‘place’. Sometimes seen as a piece of jargon, place is actually an idea that’s central to rebuilding trust. The more people identify with their location – and make the connection between their representatives and the identity of the place they live – the better democracy can offset the flux sometimes created by globalisation. In this light, Pillar F of our New Conversations guide is worth checking out – and particularly the place-builder kit on pages 118-119.
Also this week:
This site and app brings democracy into your school or organisation, allowing you to create your own election
And this one maps where petitions are gathering most steam
YouGov last week brought us the sensational news that the term ‘Father Christmas’ is on the wane, as younger Brits increasingly favour the moniker ‘Santa Claus’. This comes just weeks after the National Trust planted its flag firmly in the Father Christmas camp by banning the alternative, branding it an Americanism.
So which dog is whose in this fight? Who is open to ‘Americanisation’ and who is gnashing their teeth at the superseding of the British term? We ditched our lab coats and goggles in favour of Christmas jumpers and Santa (or Father Christmas) hats, and headed down to the Values Lab to find out.
Admittedly, we’ve never put the question on Little Saint Nick’s handle itself through the Values survey machine, so we’ve plumped for a proxy – asking who thinks American influence is too strong in the UK. The warm, fuzzy reds and purples on the upper right of the map show strong agreement from Settlers – hardly surprising when we know that this group tend to be older, and to feel strongly about are traditions and national pride. Although note that the purple patch strays into the Concerned Ethical part of the Pioneer segment, perhaps suggesting a political dimension to concern about Americanisation, too.
The cold, wintery blues in the lower left of the map, meanwhile, show very low levels of agreement from socially liberal Prospectors. This group tend to be more globalist in their outlook and unconcerned with tradition. And their Prospector motivations also perhaps make them more likely to see the appeal of the American Dream.