Exploration of local resources – Exploration and conservation of local values


Exploration and preservation of local values is an extensive community process based on local cooperation and governed by [1] Act XXX of 2012 on Hungarikums and Government Decree 114/2013(IV. 16.) on Hungarian National Values, providing for the establishment of a local/regional value registry and of a value registry committee.

The exploration of values serves the recognition, documentation, classification, professional processing and publication of values defined by the community/communities of a given municipality. The process is based on joint work and decision-making, which largely contributes to the development and strengthening of, and commitment to, a collective experience and identity.

Purpose of the activity

In protecting values, the primary goal (in line with the purposes laid down in the Act on Hungarian National Values) is to define, document and publish local values. When supported with the right methodology, these combined activities may generate sustainable local social and economic development, building on the locally available but formerly unexploited resources and social cooperation. Togetherness, unity, a strengthening of the national consciousness, protection of the national values, development and reinforcement of a national identity are listed as the goals of the law, where the smallest units and, at the same time, the widest foundations are the local and regional value registries, as defined by the small local communities.

Key terms

Act on Hungarian National Values, process of value exploration, value documentation, local value registry, committee for local value registry, regional value registry, sectoral value registries, county value registry, Hungarian Value Registry, Collection of Hungarikums, dialogue between generations, local identity, sense of identity, collaboration, community development


  • personal: municipality, civil sector, local institutions, volunteering, entrepreneurs, experts
  • material: community space, ICT devices, tools for documentation and presentation
  • financial: events (value presentations, action programmes, exhibitions, local fairs, festivals), funds for publications, experts’ fees

Substantive components

The essence of value exploration lies in a strengthened sense of identity, which can be measured on individual, community, local, county and national scales. The basis of this programme, the Act on Hungarian National Values classifies national values on various levels, providing for the documentation and preservation of Hungarian cultural identity, creativity and traditions inside and outside of the national borders, and for the survival of this legacy. The system of the value registries stipulated in the legislation is called a ‘value pyramid’, where the local, municipal and regional registries constitute the widest base, indicating the importance that the collection of local values and the impact of this process has for the entire nation. This underlines, in a graphic way, that the final goal is not the extension of the registry of Hungarikums, but to generate local value exploration processes, which will lead to local social and economic growth.

The categories (agri-food business, health and lifestyle, built environment, industrial and technical solutions, cultural heritage, sports, natural environment, tourism) laid down in Hungarian Government Decree 114/2013. (IV.16.) on the Management of Hungarian National Values ensure that well-founded development processes with a focus on values, in line with the principle of national unity, should be launched in the municipalities, also making use of sectoral synergies.

The possibility of strengthening a municipality’s economy and society lies in the interoperability between various sectors that this process gives rise to, and in developments that are based on culture.

All in all, values may be found in collective knowledge, intellectual and material heritage, in the contemporary productive and applied arts, in agricultural products or gastronomical specialties – in other words, in any human product that is unique and significant in the everyday life of a given community, and values may also be found in our natural and built environments, representing uniqueness through their distinctive formal characteristics. Value is a qualitative attribute of things or phenomena which have a complex meaning on their own and have an inspiring effect on the people and their communities that live around them, based on the ideals of usefulness, goodness and effectiveness.

The evolution of values is also affected by the groups, social situations and roles that define values.

Values will therefore have a valid meaning for all. There is a set of conditions to meet:

  • access is limited (uniqueness, rarity, irreplaceability),
  • it can be compared to something (there is a system of benchmarks – comparability),
  • human or natural product, with an impact on its social environment,
  • it raises the interest of its wider environment,
  • it expresses importance (creates a set of values – can be weighed)
  • it may be bequeathed.

Exploration and collection of local values is not an end but rather a means of society’s capacity for conservation, a principle which also includes the priorities of the related professional activities. It is important that the utilisation of the locally systematised values and their effect on the environment and on the value systems of locals should become visible and the economic uses of the process should become tangible for a wider group of people.

The process of the tasks:

  • to explore and systematise the natural and built environment, the intellectual and material traditions and values, and to work out a method of preserving them,
  • to bequeath these values in line with the requirements of the given period,
  • to define local products (e.g. in crafts, trade and gastronomy),
  • to support the value-centred activities of creative studios and groups nurturing cultural traditions,
  • positioning: to recognize the uniqueness in these values as well as opportunities for culture and tourism, and to turn them into a resource for the economy.

The activities of the value registry – apart from the given characteristics of the natural environment – are fundamentally connected to human creativity, be it is intellectual or material products. Beyond making public, bequeathing and preserving the values around us, the significance of the value registry movement lies in the spirit of community education and in strengthening of the social fabric. The power of community life may show itself in diverse forms of activity. The exploration of values may provide new experience, new knowledge and a useful free time activity for many. Results produced in collective work will have a strengthening and motivating effect on the community members.

The value proposals are made by the community members, and the same community members will accept or reject them.


  • a “broad” interpretation of the concept of value
  • a dominance of personal commitments and motivations
  • strengthened subjective evaluations.

Applied tools and methods

Regulation of the value preservation process should be done based on the following methodological practices:

  1. a consensus on the process of community value exploration between local decision-makers and active people;
  2. finding and reaching out to activists and people initiating value exploration;
  3. involving local organizations, institutions and participants of the three sectors;
  4. implementing a training programme preparing for community value exploration, if possible;
  5. using personal contacts, guided interviews, targeted questionnaires [2] to find and contact the inhabitants of the settlement and the neighbourhood, the value owners;
  6. generation of community discussions after the establishment of personal contacts, in connection with the suggested values;
  7. conducting personal interviews with people joining the process of value exploration;
  8. creation of value groups (e.g. sectoral working groups);
  9. publicity – publication: a series of joint community occasions, events presenting values, initiation and implementation of events;
  10. participation in the establishment/work of the local value registry committee;
  11. documentation of values, entering them into the value registry;
  12. launching value registry clubs (optional);
  13. finding and shaping opportunities for economic development;
  14. use of grants;
  15. initiation of local action programmes related to values (process and sustainability).

Results, expected outcome

Value exploration and the documenting and preserving activities, together with a strengthening of the cohesion of the local community will generate sustainable social and economic development processes in the municipality and its wider environment. Building on locally available but unexploited resources, it promotes participation-based collaboration based on the principle of national unity, makes the material and intellectual heritage of a community tangible, and induces collective planning programmes on a cultural basis.


[1] Hungarikum is a collective term indicating a value worthy of distinction, which represents top levels of performance by Hungarian people, some typically Hungarian attribute, uniqueness, specialty and quality. http://www.hungarikum.hu
[2] The National Institute for Culture’s methodology includes a questionnaire of 22 targeted questions available about value registries. The questionnaire of targeted questions serves as a basis for a questionnaire to be drafted by the community, which may be shorter or longer, as they see fit. Drafting the questionnaires should always be done in a coordinated manner. They contain suggestions, so their content will not be automatically transferred to the value registries. As part of the processing work, community members may collectively decide to suggest or to reject items. The questionnaire must reflect the source material available about the suggested values. This will help the systematising effort later on.
Act XXX of 2012 on Hungarikums, and Government Decree 114/2013. (IV. 16.) on the Management of Hungarian National Values
Értékekre hangolódva – A nemzeti értékgyűjtés módszertani kézikönyve. [Attuned to values – Methodological manual for the collection of national values]. 2016, Budapest, National Institute for Culture. http://www.hungarikum.hu

This article based on the following document: Community development methodological guide