The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has released the results of a survey about public appreciation for several occupations. The military tops the chart of perceived contribution to society’s well- being, while clergy is somewhere in the middle and lawyers are dead last:
One curious thing about this chart is that it seems that there has been an almost total absolute drop from 2009 to 2013 in respondents’ appreciation for the contributions of all of the occupations surveyed. The lone exception is business executives, whose esteem has risen since 2009 (I guess it had nowhere to go but up). I wonder where the lost votes are going. Perhaps to celebrities. Or government officials.
And here is a more fine-grained break-down of public perceptions.
An interesting result here is that the appreciation profile of clergy, artists, and journalists is roughly the same (journalists had the worst drop). A small number of respondents believe that these occupations contribute “a lot” to society. But a more substantial number say that all three groups contribute “some” to society.
Have a look at the link above for more detail about perceptions of the clergy’s contribution by religious affiliation and frequency of attendance.
One thing I’m not at all clear about is what standard of “well-being” is being used (in the survey or by the respondents) as the measure of the common good. But I suppose that it is part of the methodology of such surveys to leave issues like that intentionally vague and subjective. No use stirring up trouble among the respondents, after all.