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Culture change

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Culture change is a public policy term that emphasises the influence of cultural capital on individual and community behaviour. Contrasted to classic theories of behaviour - which highlight the role of information and incentives on decision making - culture change stresses the importance of understanding the social and cultural context of peoples lives in determining their behavior.

In particular this includes the influence of families and significant others, organisations, communities and neighbourhoods, and wider social influence such as the [[media]. It argues that the cultural and environmental context in which people make decisions guides the behavioural intentions they adopt in regard to particular decisions or courses of action. Actual behaviour, however, depends on interaction of these cultural influences with the incentives, regulation and legislation that people face along with the information and awareness they have about those actions.

The term was given prominance by the UK Prime Minister's Strategy Unit in their 2008 discussion paper: Achieving Culture Change: A Policy Framework. In this paper the case is made for using a richer, ecological model of human behaviour in public policy making. The key concepts the paper is based on include:

  • Cultural capital - such as the attitudes, values, aspirations and sense of self-efficacy which has an on influence behaviour, and is itself influenced by behaviour
  • The role of political narrative and new ideas and innovations in shifting the social zeitgeist while being ever subject to the 'elastic band' of public opinion
  • The process of behavioural normalisation - whereby behaviour and actions pass through into social and cultural norms (for example, it is argued that the UK experience of seat belt enforcement established and reinforced this as a social norm)
  • The use of customer insight and segmentations techniques in public policy in order to develop richer understandings of the role of cultural capital
File:Culture change model.jpg

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