What shapes people’s values, perspectives, and beliefs?
How do these influence their responses? How are people’s values and/or perspectives in agreement and in conflict? Whose values and perspectives are stated and reported? Whose are missing?
Why exploring perspectives is important
Exploring perspectives is important because they influence people’s ideas and actions. These ideas and actions can then impact on other people. Perspectives can be a challenging area to explore with students. However, students are more than capable of understanding that people have differing viewpoints on social issues.
Views, values, and perspectives
Views are the opinions or beliefs a person holds. These views might be expressed as a particular stance taken on a social issue.
People’s points of view are often based on their values (deeply held beliefs about what is important or desirable). Values can be moral, cultural, economic, even environmental. Exploring values provides insight into why people hold a particular view. Note that people are often unaware of the values that underpin their own views. Exploring values is a useful way for students to examine their own deeply held beliefs.
Values are in turn shaped by perspectives (bodies of thought or ideas held by social groups). Examples are a social justice perspective, a feminist perspective, or an economic perspective. Perspectives are built up over a long time and are not defined by a single viewpoint. They are a set of foundational ideas that lead people to think in particular ways.
Perspectives can be explored by recognising the driving forces that someone brings to a social issue. However, perspectives are not static, for example, a feminist perspective from the 1970s might differ to a contemporary feminist perspective. There are also various types of feminism, each underpinning different views and values.
More about points of view, values, and perspectives on TKI
One way to explore views, values, and perspectives is to present students with different views and ask:
- View: What does this person believe about this issue?
- Values: Why does the person hold this view?
- Perspectives: What has shaped this person’s view?
The 'Gender inequality: Perspectives' activity presents 3 different views on gender inequality along with a brief description of 3 perspectives. For this exercise, a very general description of these perspectives has been used. Students match each statement with a perspective and complete a short paragraph that explains their reasoning.
Download the 'Gender inequality: Perspectives activity' (pdf, 98KB)
Types of perspective
Social justice perspective
People approaching a social issue from a social justice perspective emphasise human rights, equity for all, and a social action focus.
A feminist perspective is likely to emphasise gender rights, equality, and the impact of societal views and values related to women. Many feminists also take an 'intersectional approach'. This recognises that race and class are also key considerations when addressing gender issues.
Using an economic perspective involves exploring the broader economic factors that underpin a social issue. This includes impacts like the economic well-being of individuals, groups, and the labour force.
Activity — exploring values
One way to explore values that relate to different perspectives is giving students a bundle of values, like equality, compassion, fairness, honesty, or well-being. Students can arrange the values in a hierarchy of relevance for each perspective.