The survey found that, while
the world's young people have a broadly positive view of the UK,
they are more likely to respect our country for its reliability,
orderliness and stability than to be excited by it as an exemplar
of modernity and innovation. This is the view given in direct
answer to a question about modernity and tradition¹ and is supported by answers given to other questions
about the UK's reputation for creativity in the areas of science,
engineering and technology (SET) and the arts.
The UK is rated well for innovation in SET, but behind
the USA, Japan and Germany. What is holding our reputation back
is not so much the quality of our research, but our perceived
lack of interest in translating it into commercial applications.
Cloning is a case in point. It's a very visible British achievement,
tremendous science, but it also seems rather removed from everyday
life. What do you do with a cloned sheep? The way forward for
UK SET appears to be showing how the excellence of our fundamental
research converts into everyday uses and means better products
and a higher quality of life for the world's young people.
The UK scores less well for
creativity and innovation in the arts. The data show that young
people essentially conceive 'the arts' as popular music and film.
(For instance, Elton John and Hugh Grant topped the list of spontaneous
mentions of UK contemporary artists in 1999.) They are less aware
of the 'high' arts and, in forming an opinion about them, it appears
that they rely on what else they think they know about the UK
- that it is a cautious, conservative and traditional country
- and assume that its arts must be traditional too. Some, especially
in Europe, show an awareness of how artistically creative and
innovative the UK can be, but the image of the UK as traditional
and conservative is so strong that they tend to dismiss these
flashes of innovation as departures from the norm rather than
the norm itself.
The way forward is clearly
to show that the UK has a culture of creativity and innovation
that co-exists and interacts with the heritage of a rich history,
but this is a sophisticated image and one where each aspect has
the potential to undermine the other.
The message about creative
UK is therefore,
The general image
of the UK around the world is reliable but dull and this image
is often quite deeply rooted. T o contradict it, we need to
identify what young people already know or what they already
want and work with that. Shocking them into something they 'ought'
to know or want will not work. Then we need to state the message
and restate it consistently, and make sure that every other
message that we are giving out supports it.
In 18 countries the majority view is that UK society is traditional;
in the other 12 it is seen as modern. The first group includes all
the high incomes countries we surveyed apart from Singapore, while
the 'modern' group is a mix of middle and low income countries.
purposes, please print in 'landscape'
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section - Conclusions