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(with thanks to Pam Hardwick)

Our ATTITUDES are the manifestation of our VALUES - they are expressed through what we SAY or DO -

VALUES make us accept certain things and reject others - how we act and what we say present our ATTITUDES - i.e. our VALUES made manifest.


These make up our belief system. Values are beliefs that guide our behaviour. They have often been bolstered by religious sanctions: God said this is the way to live. However, they are socially constructed and devised to allow society to operate with the least amount of conflict.

VALUES define what we accept as good, right or acceptable. We may have our own personally thought-out and constructed values but many of the values we accept are socially or culturally constructed. Society develops a value system or a set of values and conveys these to us through schools, governments, churches, the media, the family etc. Nationalities often have different values which mean communication between nations is sometimes difficult. We value the freedom of people to have as many children as they wish while China has introduced the value of a one child limit because the value of inhibiting population growth is more important to them.  

When writing about values , remember generally, values cannot be one-word statements. To say that the text values truth does not really identify the particular value regarding truth that the text encourages us to accept. Also to say we have a value of being anti-war leads to a contradiction. Values are what we consider 'valuable beliefs' therefore we can't have a negative value. If we value the right to life then our attitude will be anti-war. If we value the innocence of childhood, then our attitude will be against exploiting children. If we value freedom to then our attitude will be against the idea of 'freedom from' (The Handmaid's Tale).  
We also need to be careful to consider what attitudes and values the question is asking for. Is the question asking for:


Attitudes are how values are manifested in our actions and thoughts to others. ATTITUDES are our feelings towards certain idea or issues. Attitudes dictate how we react in concrete situations. Authors reveal certain attitudes within their texts whether these texts be fiction or non-fiction, print or non-print. Attitudes are conveyed through the use of specific language which positions you to accept the author’s attitudes – ‘terrorist’ for example immediately positions us to regard the person in a negative light. As readers or viewers, we need to be aware that texts position us to accept certain attitudes so that we can either accept or reject these attitudes . 

Remember to distinguish between :

  • the reader's attitudes and values;
  • the author's attitudes and values;
  • or the attitudes and values revealed within the text (which may be different to the author's values and attitudes in satire for example).


Ideology is a belief system that consists of certain values and attitudes. It is a collective view of the world. It is secular and religious. Ideology unconsciously determines our 'way of seeing', creates values and set standards that guide our attitudes.

Another definition for Ideology: Ideology - is a system of assumptions by which a society operates, and which permeates everything it produces, including literature.


Assumptions are all the things or 'ways of seeing' that we take for granted. They are naturally assumed to be true and become part of what is termed 'common sense'. However, there is no such thing as these truths and assumptions are socially constructed. We become so used to hearing them and taking them for granted that they give the appearance of truth or fact.

Another important facet of the course is ISSUES.


Issues are areas of conflict which concern a particular group. - something controversial within a community, whether a small sector of a suburb, part of a school, or the whole world Examples include. abortion, migration, Aboriginal land rights. An issue can often arise as a consequence of a clash between two sets of VALUES, ATTITUDES and/or IDEOLOGIES.

Relative values - interesting article


Sample questions

1.       Consider the techniques employed by the author to convey his/her values and attitudes. Comment upon your response to these values and attitudes.

2.       What values and attitudes are being presented in this passage?

3.       Discuss how this text represents gender / women / men / females / males / boys / girls/ gender, the experience of youth, social class, the aged, the family…

4.       Consider your reactions to or reading of one passage. You might consider your attitudes and values and/or other reading experiences.

5.       Discuss the ways in which one passage employs narrative conventions and style of language to influence the readers’ response.

6.       Comment on the issues and values in this passage / these passages.

7.       What attitudes to the theme /issues raised in this article / passage does the writer encourage in you? Analyse the techniques used by the author to shape your response.

8.       How does the writer use setting / character / point of view / choice of language / narrative structure / dialogue to position the reader in relation to the issue raised in this article/ passage? (Select the most relevant three for the passage you are analysing.)

9.       Consider the comment the author makes on human values and social structures. Make detailed references to support your answer.

10.    What attitude to ……. does the writer encourage in you, the reader? Analyse the techniques that have been used in achieving this response.

11.    How does the use of setting, choice of language and selection of detail position the reader to respond to certain minority groups.

12.    How has the the writer challenged / endorsed your attitudes to the subject of this article / passage?


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Feel free to access these resources for study purposes or classroom use. However where they have been directly dowloaded for distribution or copied and provided as notes, please acknowledge as a courtesy. John Watson