Study: Economic Conditions Shape Social Involvement

Article excerpt

In difficult economic times, most adults believe it is important to be involved in social change, but they draw the line at opening their checkbooks.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents in an international survey sponsored by Walden University agreed that when economic conditions are difficult, there is a greater need for social involvement than when the economy is healthy. Respondents said they would increase their participation in volunteer work or service while cutting back on financial donations. Only 20 percent said they would be more likely to donate money to a social cause during hard times.

These are among the findings of the 2012 Social Change Impact Report, conducted online by Harris Interactive for Walden University in February and March. A total of 8,953 adults in eight countries, including the United States, were surveyed about their views on participating in various forms of social action.

"The 2012 survey's findings emphasize how factors such as the state of the economy can influence social change attitudes and behaviors, especially at a time when the need is so great," said Walden University President Cynthia Baum. She said last year's survey revealed "the undeniable power of social change in action from individuals and organizations."

Adults in the United States, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Jordan and Mexico participated in the survey, which was designed to measure their perceptions about--and motivations for--getting involved in actions to bring about social change.

The survey defined positive social change or social action as "involvement in activities that make improvement in the lives of individuals and communities locally and around the world." It can include activities such as volunteering, donating money, goods or services, or educating others about a particular issue or cause.

The survey also examined the roles of individuals, nonprofit organizations, government and the media in social action. …