The Fairness Instinct

Ed Wallis


This research makes a major intervention and deserves a wide readership.”

Anthony Giddens, author of The Politics of Climate Change

‘Fairness’ has become the politician’s weapon of choice, with recent political debate dominated by attempts to sustain or refute claims that government policy is ‘fair’.  The reason that this territory is so contested is clear: fairness as a concept holds a deep public resonance, and policy success often depends on going with the grain of a powerful popular ‘fairness instinct’.

Responding to innovative new Fabian Society research conducted for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Tom Crompton, Lord Deben, Huw Irranca-Davies, Caroline Lucas, Ben Page and Baroness Worthington explore how this fairness instinct can be harnessed in order to tackle perhaps the toughest political challenge of our time: climate change.

Politicians need not fear public opinion when it comes to designing policy; they just need to understand it. The research shows people are prepared to act to change their behaviour and consume more sustainably, but this is dependent on the co-operation of others. The public may not like the idea of having to make lifestyle changes, but are prepared to do so once they understand the broader social issues at stake. Politicians need to recognise this and set a credible policy framework that can foster a shared sense of environmental citizenship, rather than attempting to sell polices by appealing to consumer self-interest.

You can buy a printed copy edition of The Fairness Instinct: How we can harness public opinion to save the environment for £9.95, plus £1 p+p, by phoning the Fabian Society bookshop on 020 7227 4900, emailing us at [email protected] or send a cheque payable to “The Fabian Society” to 11 Dartmouth Street, London, SW1H 9BN.

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The Fairness Instinct cover

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