Obsessed with economy, too busy to care: how we see ourselves now
THE Ipsos MRBI Changing Ireland: Attitudes And Values survey published this week in The Irish Times will provide a unique perspective and great clarity on the true legacy of the Irish economic boom and bust.
With the dust of our economic collapse yet to settle, it has been difficult to discern which pillars of progress have been left standing. The Changing Ireland survey updates a number of Ipsos MRBI studies, including the Éire Anois study conducted in 1987, allowing us to pinpoint where Irish attitudes, values, lifestyles, opinions and ambitions have changed.
The survey has also been expanded to explore new topics, such as attitudes towards immigration, trade unions, technology and the environment.
Also included are selected questions from Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI polls during this period, providing yet another layer of data with which to assess how Irish opinion has evolved on important issues.
The Changing Ireland survey confirms we are not going back to the 1980s, except perhaps in terms of how important we feel it is to have a job.
We recognise that our standard of living has improved, although maintaining this standard of living is not easy for many. We are trying harder to manage our money and we watch what we spend more closely than we did in 1987 when we had a lot less to spend, but arguably needed a lot less to live.
“Nod and wink”
We also see ourselves differently. We see ourselves now as more hard-working and honest. Perhaps we are at last saying goodbye to our “nod-and-wink” culture and the notion that success in Ireland was more about who you knew than what you knew.
Interestingly, the change in our perceived honesty has come about only since 2001, after a decade of tribunals and inquiries: a huge investment, but perhaps a price worth paying if it means we now expect our leaders to lead with integrity.
And we expect more from ourselves. We know it is important to be healthy and we want to exercise more. We feel it is important to have money and would like others to think we are doing well. At the same time we are rightly concerned that if we spend our time working, exercising and online, it leaves very little time to make a contribution to building a more caring society.
Too selfish, too busy
Irish people are less caring now compared to 15-20 years ago, according to 57 per cent of Irish adults, up from 48 per cent in 1987. Not a dramatic increase but a significant one, in the wrong direction. Why? A small number blame the recession, but mostly we blame ourselves for being too selfish or too busy.