Posted on 04-03-17 at 3:06 p.m.
A Fantasy: Going to war!
At least that's what 12% of Canadians are telling us!
The idea of probing such a topic came to us because of all the media attention given to radicalization lately.
I don't blame the media, but just the fact that they have been discussing this issue, giving it first-page prominence, may have given the public the impression that the phenomenon is much more significant than it actually is (in terms of numbers of mobilized individuals). For example, although Muslims represent 3% of the population, our surveys have shown that people believe their numbers to be much higher. The media coverage has undoubtedly played a role here.
Since we obviously can't interview the people who have already left to fight, to get an idea of the scope of the phenomenon, we wanted to hypothesize a similar phenomenon to stand in for radicalization. Consequently, we have turned our attention to those who "fantasize" about joining the holy war. It is clear that before freshly converted disciples leave the country for such an "adventure," they undergo a kind of psychological "ripening" process in their minds. Before heading off to war, these radicalized individuals probably spend a great deal of time coming to terms with the idea, imaging their prospective "mission," imbuing with it meaning. They idealize and romanticize their commitment, which gives them a motivation previously lacking in their lives before embarking on this path.
The question then became: How many Canadians entertain this kind of holy-war fantasy?
In our last survey of the values of Canadians (a survey reflecting Canadian society as a whole), we therefore asked people if they agreed with the following statement: "I feel envious sometimes of young people who go to Syria or the Middle East to join the holy war or sacrifice their lives for a cause they believe in."
The results obtained were a source of "radical" astonishment for us: 12% of Canadians said they agreed with such a statement (4% "totally" and 9% "somewhat" agreed). Interestingly, there is no regional variation on this question, with the exception of Québec, which stands out as the province least in agreement with the statement (9%), even though the media there has given the subject a great deal of coverage.
Youth searching for meaning
Not surprisingly, young people are the most in agreement with this statement. But what's amazing is their level of agreement: 29% of 18-24 year olds and 20% of those 25-34. Note, too, that even though the percentage of people in agreement declines proportionally and significantly with age, it is still 3% among people 65 and older. (There is something surreal about imagining a 70-year-old fantasizing about holding a Kalashnikov. An aging Baby Boomer!)
We also find the highest percentages of people who fantasize about fighting in a holy war among immigrants, labourers, individuals with lower incomes and education, and men.
Therefore, it appears that challenging economic circumstances can produce conditions favourable to radicalization-or at least for fantasizing about it. These types of social conditions provide fertile ground for indoctrination. Ardent young people who struggle constantly with major social and economic barriers might easily end up fantasizing about jihad as an "exciting project"!
The values and mentalities associated with jihad fantasies
Which brings us to the value profile of these "aspiring jihadists." They express a complex kaleidoscope of motivations and mentalities. They feel excluded from society; they believe that they have no place, purpose or meaning in society; they feel powerless, with no control over their lives.
Consequently, they feel a keen need to boost their social identity, for their own feelings of self-worth and in the eyes of others. They want to become someone in society, to boost their low self-esteem.
Unlike the people who normally feel excluded from society, these jihad fantasists display a unique combination of traits: they see themselves as full of promise, as able to meet challenges, but feel that society is preventing them from achieving their potential.
Therefore, in their fantasies, a "holy war" seems like a wonderful project. It would give their life meaning, let them achieve their full potential, enhance their status and social identity, and help them become someone important on the social scene.
Obviously, only a tiny minority of those who periodically indulge in this kind of fantasy ever end up radicalized, but the psychological/sociological portrait described here suggests an entryway to the radicalization process.
A societal project for brands and organizations
In my opinion, radicalization is an issue offering a great opportunity for companies to demonstrate their commitment to a social cause. Of course, there are a lot of intervenors working actively to prevent radicalization. But if, in addition to these initiatives, brands and companies also tackled it as a community-engagement project, we might see some significant progress. Jobs, integration, community support-whatever the initiatives-the social problem is certainly important enough to warrant devoting the necessary resources to it.
Benjamin Britten's War Requiem
Britten's War Requiem is the ideal classical musical piece to accompany such a problematic issue. This requiem, beyond its liturgical associations, constitutes a fervid condemnation of the abominations of war. Britten composed this work in 1962, for the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral in Britain, which had been destroyed during the Second World War.
The clip suggested here is "Agnus Dei." The text is a poem that makes various connections between the butchery on the battlefields of the First World War and the crucifixion du Christ.
Ian Bostridge, tenor, Antonio Pappano conducting, and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, in rehearsal:
Posted on 03-28-17 at 1:54 p.m.
A few weeks ago, I launched a weekly blog on societal and market trends, which I associate with pieces of opera or classical music. Many of you have been following my blog, and I thank you for that. Your enthusiasm is greatly appreciated.
Following the launch of my new blog, I reached an agreement with La Presse, which has kindly agreed to publish my blog every two weeks, starting on April 4. Therefore, I will synchronise with La Presse's schedule and publish my blog posts on the same dates (and on the same topics). The La Presse version will be slightly shorter than the one appearing on the CROP website, which will have more detail, including statistical tables as well as a summary of the values and hot buttons that explain the blog topic-and, of course, the opera or classical music clips.
Looking forward to reconnecting on April 4!
President of CROP
March 28, 2017
Posted on 03-20-17 at 4:33 p.m.
Are we prepared for a Donald Trump to lead our country?
During his election campaign, Donald Trump admitted to having lied a few times when unable to sufficiently hold his audiences' interest. When he felt that people were getting bored, he would launch some trial balloons and then retract them when the false information no longer proved useful. None of which prevented him from being elected President of the United States. One might have thought that a politician who admitted to lying would be toast. But, no. By telling people what they wanted to hear, true or false, he charmed the crowds!
We have also witnessed the explosion of "fake news," which Mr. Trump has unquestionably exploited and continues to exploit-a case in point: the alleged wiretapping by President Obama.
There is something deeply disturbing about this phenomenon. You can lie to people, yet they don't care! Are there a significant number of Canadians who would react the same way, I wondered. With no expectations of coming up with any meaningful results, we nevertheless asked this question in our last survey on the values of Canadians: "When I read, hear or watch the news, it doesn't matter if it's absolutely true or not; what's more important to me is that it affects me emotionally, that it touches something deep inside me."
To our utter stupefaction, 34% of Canadians said they agree with this statement! Two out of five in Québec (37%), the province with the highest proportion, compared to 30% in British Columbia and the Prairie Provinces, with the lowest proportion.
It is true that three times as many people say they "somewhat agree" than "totally agree" with this assertion-26% versus 8%-but even so, they still don't mind being lied to as long as they get an emotional hit!
Also astonishing is that one in three in the country (32% in Canada) only "somewhat disagree" with the notion in question. How is it possible not to totally disagree with this statement (34% in Canada)?
The most vulnerable groups
Those who agree with the said statement are found among people with the lowest incomes and education in the country, among immigrants and blue-collar workers. Most surprising are the youth: 43% of Canadians 18 to 24 years of age agree with the statement; and 39% of those aged 25 to 34.
It's as if, when suffering from certain socioeconomic disadvantages, taking comfort in having one's perceptions validated, experiencing some emotional gratification, being touched on an emotional level, is more important than getting the facts straight. Just as with authoritarian regimes, whether soviet or communist, where what counts is the effectiveness, the utility of the information, not its accuracy; in this case, effectiveness is the ability to touch people's emotional hot buttons.
Click here for detailed results
Is this where the current wave of populism across Western democracies is leading us? Is the tradition of truth losing its relevance in our new, complex and uncertain world?
The values and mentalities behind the acceptance of lies
The sociocultural profile of these "willingly credulous" individuals helps us understand why they express such an attitude. First and foremost, they are profoundly cynical. They simply believe that all the elites are lying to them! That the media, politicians, business people, even scientists, all have an agenda and are lying to the public to get what they want!
They also feel more or less excluded within society. They feel disconnected from what's going on in the world and from what the media is telling them. They believe that there is no (or no longer a) place for people like them in society. They are fatalistic, expecting bad things to happen to them. They feel that they have little control over their lives, while at the same time believing that they will eventually adapt to current conditions, notably through civil disobedience-desperate times, desperate measures!
They also highly regard strong leadership, which they see as the way to redress the exclusion they feel in today's world.
And so we come full circle, to Mr. Trump, or to his eventual Canadian counterpart!
Click here to consult values profile
The opportunities for companies and organisations
Whenever we identify societal and market phenomena, I enjoy finding their implications and opportunities for organisations, companies and brands. In this case, I would never recommend lying to the public or to consumers while manipulating their emotions to promote a cause. However, people do need to feel moved, to be comforted and mobilized via their hot buttons. Today, more than ever, the communications opportunity for organizations and brands is to find ways to touch people emotionally. Informing them is necessary but insufficient.
Of course, one must be doubly vigilant to root out fake news and expose its authors. We must call on the media, the press and social media platforms to do their part. I consider the efforts of Facebook and other platforms rather paltry given the magnitude of the phenomenon.
The lie in Don Giovanni!
In the history of opera, one of the greatest liars-if not the greatest liar-is undoubtedly Don Giovanni. He doesn't lie to achieve political power; he lies to seduce women! I have chosen a clip in which his valet, Leporello, attempts to "console" a conquest abandoned by his boss. He explains to the unhappy woman that she is but one of his boss's many conquests to whom he has promised the sun and the moon (notably marriage) to take advantage of them. Known as the "Catalogue Aria," it is, in my estimation, one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written. Here, it is performed in a modern production at La Scala in Milan (December 2011).
W. A. Mozart: Don Giovanni – Peter Mattei, Bryn Terfel, Anna Netrebko, Barbara Frittoli, Giuseppe Filianoti, Anna Prohaska, Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Daniel Barenboim, Production: Robert Carsen, Milano, release 06 Nov. 2015, Deutsche Grammophon.
CROP in the news
Posted on 03-17-17 at 4:02 p.m.
In March 2017, CROP conducted a telephone survey among 1,000 residents of the boroughs of Brossard, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville and Saint-Lambert about their awareness of the “On paie trop pour Longueuil” campaign. Also investigated in the survey were the residents’ perceptions of the current tax management system as well as their level of favourability toward holding a referendum with the ultimate goal of requesting the government to demerge the three boroughs from the South Shore Regional agglomeration.
For more details about this issue, click on the following hyperlinks and find out what was said in the media.
Click here for the article published in Le Courrier du Sud – La Population est derrière les maires des villes liées (available in French only)
Click here for the article published in Les Versants – Un sondage et un dernier appel au premier ministre (available in French only)
Click here for the press release – Brossard, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville et Saint-Lambert se préparent à sortir de l’agglomération de Longueuil (available in French only)
Click on this video excerpt from CTV News – South Shore mayors want out of agglomeration (available in English only)