B A C K G R O U N D
There are two troubling intertwined trends in the UK, and much of the developed world, right now that are having a hugely detrimental impact on our society and the way we live, work and talk together.
First, a growing polarisation is dividing us into separate camps, unable to find a common ground or reach compromise. Left wing or right wing, urban or rural, leave or remain; Britons are increasingly identifying themselves in opposition to another group and refusing to engage with them. Fake news, social media bubbles – we’re all familiar with the narrative.
The second disturbing trend is the complete breakdown of public confidence in the great civic institutions that make up our society.
This can be seen in data from public opinion research conducted by organisations such as Ipsos Mori and the British Social Attitudes Survey. The media, business, banks and especially political institutions have suffered such commonplace derision as to have had their value completely undermined to a dangerous level of mistrust in recent years.
I D E A
CiviliTea sets out to explore the people behind the country’s institutions through a series of in depth interviews. By presenting these individuals as the three dimensional human, and often intelligent and dedicated people they are we can help to redefine the arena in which public debate takes place, promoting the necessary, vigorous dialogue of a healthy society over the vitriol and divisive rhetoric of recent years.
F O R M A T
CiviliTea takes the form of a series of long form interviews. The host and interviewer engage over a cup of tea, the quintessential symbol of the best part of the British tradition of polite conversation. By rejecting the adversarial structure of interviewing popularised in recent times in favour of a more civil discourse, CiviliTea believes that we can prove that interviews are not a zero sum competition between host and guest but in fact a symbiotic relationship where mutual respect can offer the interviewee the space to explain the detail and nuance of the factors that inform their thinking and decision making.
H O S T
Ben Francis is 32 year old professional who has for the previous seven years been working for international NGOs both in the UK and overseas. He lives with a passion for Manchester United, non-fiction books and a blown-out-of-all-proportions distaste for mustard. With a lifelong interest in social and political issues he became dismayed not just by events but by the way they were perceived and discussed at all levels. He theorised that if the tone and content of the way we speak to each other about the most important things in our lives didn’t change soon, the effects could be catastrophic in the way we viewed the world and ourselves. Thus, with only a vague idea of what he was doing, he set out to fix the world a tiny bit with a podcast.