Seven evils that blight society named by Joseph Rowntree Foundation
By Alastair Jamieson
Greed and the decline of honesty are among seven social evils undermining Britain’s society, according to a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
The research organisation said collapsing moral values and failing institutions such as the education system blighted the lives of millions.
A report by the group found the abuse of drink and drugs, the permanence of poverty and the breakdown of the family are also scourges that deeply worry most of the population.
The findings, based on a consultation with 3,500 Britons and reported in the Daily Mail, come more than a century after the group’s founder Joseph Rowntree, a Quaker and chocolate maker from York, identified seven social ills in 1904 as poverty, war, slavery, intemperence, the opium trade, impurity and gambling.
The foundation said the modern-day seven social ills are:
- Individualism/greed. Researchers said Britons feel many people care only about money
- Drugs and alcohol. The report said there was concern that Britons were unable to drink in moderation.
- Declining values. Even atheists said there had been a loss of Christian values.
Social virtues. There is less honesty and no respect for police or nurses.
- Family breakdown, in particular inadequate parenting.
- Poverty. Britons feel the huge pay and bonuses for some contrasted with the poverty of others
- Failed institutions. Those surveyed said education was a ‘failed institution’ and the politicians were dishonest even before the Westminster expenses scandal.
The foundation said that while many of today’s problems can be solved, social evils run deeper and are ‘something more complex, menacing and indefinable’.
They “imply a degree of scepticism, realism or despair over whether any remedy can be found”, the report added.
Other ills, such as family breakdown and individualism, are a more modern phenomenon.
Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and an adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown on social issues, said: “Notwithstanding the difficulties that the recession has created in people’s lives, the inquiry demonstrates a commitment to identify the common good in shaping a better society and a passionate conviction that our unsustainable present offers an unreliable route map for our future.”