Your stories

Read inspirational accounts from people who have played a part in Understanding Society, either as a participant or interviewer.

“Questions relating to my political views are thought-provoking”

One of our participants wrote in to say why she enjoys the political questions that feature in Understanding Society every year.

“Our interviewer is like our family friend”

“I will carry on with Understanding Society because it’s so fun and is a chilled conversation about life,” says one of our participants.

“It gives a good insight into our nation”

“I think it’s important for researchers to be able to track changes in people’s lives e.g. people getting married or getting divorced or having children,” says one of our participants.

“It's such a privilege to be a representative for other young people”

One of our participants wrote in to say why she thinks being part of Understanding Society has been so important in her life.

Writing competition winners announced

Thank you to all of those that took part in our ‘Tell us a story’, we received hundreds of votes and we can now reveal the winners.

Tell us a story – time to vote for your favourite entry

In October 2015 we asked participants what it’s like to be part of Understanding Society and received many uplifting and touching responses. A shortlist of the best stories is now available.

“When my interviewer saw my harp, he asked if I could play him something!”

As well as sharing a love for music with their interviewer, one of our participants shares the questions they enjoy answering and the ones they don’t.

“Our contribution may be small but we are contributing to a better tomorrow”

“Society is always on the move, ever changing and evolving, but few document its progress so we are glad to participate,” says one participant.

“It feels like an informal annual report on the business that is my life”

“The Understanding Society interview is my personal progress report,” says one participant who believes the study made them think twice about their career.

“I always have notes ready to answer the questions”

When our interviewer asks the financial questions, one of our participants is always ready for them.

“You get the sense of contributing to something important”

“Reflecting on the changes that have happened in my life as well as wider society; it’s like therapy,” says one participant who thinks that it’s important to contemplate the questions once a year.

“Understanding Society has it all logged and can use it for the benefit of others”

Through the highs and lows of life, this participant is really glad that the study has been able to map their experiences so far.

“It gives my mum the chance to express how she feels about life in England”

“My mother has lived in the UK for over 40 years and this has given her the chance to express her views,” says one interviewer.

“Understanding Society has followed me through some pivotal chapters in my life”

“It’s good to know that what we value and understand about the world is being taken into account,” says one participant.

Why my interview offers time to reflect

“This survey has the potential to make us reflect on our choices and behaviour and goals,” says Emily Andrews* who believes the interview experience helps her to take stock of her life.

"Our interviewer has seen us increase from a couple to a family of four"

After reading our newsletter, Charlotte Betts* wrote in to share her experience of Understanding Society so far.

"It’s brilliant to see how people’s lives have changed," says Laleen

Laleen Skivington from Bournemouth was just about to knock on her next door, when Louise Miles asked for the lowdown on her interviewing style.

New Director for Understanding Society

This month, Understanding Society welcomes a new Director, Professor Michaela Benzeval who takes over from Professor Nick Buck as he moves on to lead the Institute for Social and Economic Research

Participants Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter: Participants Update to find out about other participants and interviewers.

We are now on Instagram

To keep you up-to-date with the latest news from the study, the Understanding Society team has now joined Instagram
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