Understanding Society's Director introduces Insights 2014
To mark the launch of Insights 2014, the study’s Director Professor Nick Buck shares his thoughts on the publication.
This is the third summary of findings from Understanding Society, based on data up to the third wave. The aim of this publication is to share publicly some of the research findings emerging from this world-leading study.
Insights 2014 reflects how the study has matured and is starting to address the sort of questions which only longitudinal data can really answer. This was the principal reason for creating the study. We interview the same set of individuals in households each year and this helps to explore how individual and family lives change over time. Uniquely, it can help us understand what factors are associated with movements in and out of states, such as poverty, and how this impact on people’s lives in the longer term.
Insights 2014 intends to inform public debate on key issues facing UK society and to appeal to the widest possible audience, beyond academics and researchers.
This potential has been demonstrated by 18 years of data and research from the British Household Panel Survey, which is incorporated into Understanding Society. We are now starting to see the equivalent promise of the new study being realised, with its much larger sample size and richer range of content attuned to some of the key issues facing society in the 21st century.
In addition to research articles, commentators discuss the key findings and their potential implications. Insights 2014 intends to inform public debate on key issues facing UK society and to appeal to the widest possible audience, beyond academics and researchers. Understanding Society builds on work carried out by the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex on the BHPS.
This work started in 1989 and we are therefore celebrating the 25th anniversary of ISER. The successful establishment of Understanding Society is one of our proudest achievements over this period and it depends on the many years of earlier work and the wealth of expertise and experience we have built up within the team. This publication reflects the work of our fieldwork partners, the large team involved in designing and undertaking the study, those who process the substantial and complex body of data and finally, the researchers who use it. Above all, we must thank the study participants who contribute their time to answering all our questions.
Given the scale and promise of Understanding Society, this short publication only highlights a small proportion of the research emerging from the study. We hope researchers are motivated to build on this body of findings which answer important societal questions. As the devolution debate progresses, we also want to encourage future research that provides a richer picture of social change in the regions across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Equally we’d like these findings to inspire readers to learn more about how society is changing.