The latest issue of Vista focuses on ‘The Values of Europe’. Jim Memory’s main article focuses on aspect of family, work, society, politics and religion. It is published in full below:
History – combining elements of Antiquity, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment – has created an array of indisputable values, to which the European Union pays lip service, but which it often regards simply as pretty packaging for the things that really matter. But aren’t these values what really matter, and are not they, on the contrary, what give direction to all the rest?” Vaclav Havel, European Parliament, 2009
The importance of the place of values in Europe continues to be a matter of furious debate, as evidenced by this quote from the recently deceased former Czech President, Vaclav Havel. Are there any values which might be described as characteristically European? Or is Europe so culturally diverse, that any talk of common values is to fly in the face of nationalisms and regionalisms which define their identities over and against Europe?
Over the last few editions of Vista we have made regular use of statistics from The European Values Study (EVS). In November 2011 sociologists from across Europe gathered for The Value(s) of Europe Conference at Tilburg University in the Netherlands to present their findings from the 2008 wave of research. At the conclusion of the conference the Atlas of European Values was published.
The Atlas, together with the accompanying website, www.atlasofeuropeanvalues.eu provides a unique insight into the values and attitudes of today’s 800 million Europeans. Given its scope and significance, we wanted to dedicate the best part of this issue of Vista to setting out the data under the themes of family, work, society, politics and religion.
The family is one of the domains where the greatest changes have taken place over recent generations. The traditional nuclear European family consisted of a married father and mother with a several children but today this is only one option among many. Declining marriage rates, an increased number of divorces, the wide acceptation of co-habitation, the legalization of same-sex marriage and dropping fertility rates have caused the size of the average household within the European Union to drop to 2.4 people.
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