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The Self-Esteem Society

Public policy must address the importance of nurturing high self-esteem in solving many social problems.

Download full text of The Self-Esteem Society (PDF, 1.12MB)

The Self-Esteem Society coverThis report was published by The Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA), and researched and written by Helen McCarthy on behalf of Demos.

As individuals, we intuitively understand the value of self-esteem. From work-outs to makeovers, personal development to alternative therapies, the ever-growing self-improvement industry illustrates our willingness to invest in our sense of self-worth.
 
Over the past few decades, research has also pointed to low self-esteem as a risk factor in a wide range of social problems, such as teenage pregnancy and youth unemployment. Public policy, however, has been slow to recognise and act on the importance of self-esteem in this wider context.
 
This report calls for a fundamental re-appraisal of our understanding of self-esteem in Britain today. Based on new polling data, expert interviews and a review of current literature, it argues that modern life makes self-esteem both more necessary for individuals to have and more difficult to get and to hold on to.
 
Government must tackle the social structures which undermine self-esteem; promote social participation which builds self-esteem; and recognise self-esteem as a pre-requisite for democracy. Only by taking this challenge seriously will it be possible to build the 'Self-Esteem Society'.

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