Politics & Social Attitudes

Political and social attitudes in the UK are changing. Recent referendum results highlighted divided views on European Union membership and Scottish independence. Understanding Society can be used to investigate the evolving political and social landscape. 

Whilst, in general, social attitudes and social policies have become more inclusive, for example in the area of gender equality, views have hardened in other areas, such as in relation to immigration. The longitudinal nature of Understanding Society makes it an invalubale resource for researchers and policy makers who want to consider these changing attitudes - we can see how political and social attitudes evolve over time.

Dr Nicole Martin

Champion for Politics & Social Attitudes

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Nicole Martin

What data do Understanding Society collect? 

Understanding Society is a longitudinal study, so follows the same people over time. We collect information that allows researchers to disentangle the complex picture of personal and household interstions with political and social attitudes; the effects of education, the views of others in the household, changes in attitudes over time. The Study also includes information on background characteristics such as ethnicity, deprivation and social norms. The questionnaire includes key political and social attitudes such as voting behaviou and intentions, gender attitudes and beliefs. 

Researchers have used political and social attitude data to investigate a wide range of issues, including democratic participation, the role of the media in voting behaviour, attitudes towards immigration and gender equality and the effect of education on social attitudes. Having boost samples of different ethnic minority groups means that social and political attitudes can be explored in different ethnic groups. 

EU referendum data

In April 2017 Understanding Society provided early access to data from Wave 8 of the Study as part of a special project: Understanding Brexit - digging deeper: what divides Leavers and Remainers? The data released included the question on whether or not the UK should leave the EU. Researchers used these data to analyse pro- and anti- Brexit attitudes, look at the impact of Brexit on indivudal wellbeing and financial expectations.

Voting behaviour

Dr Nicole Martin talks about her research on ethnic minority voting in general elections.


Blog: Gender attitudes - do we get less liberal with age?

How do our attitudes to gender roles change as we get older? 

Podcast: Gender Equality - the pay gap and beyond

Fran Bennett, Monica Costa Dias, Sam Smethers and Helen Wright explore research findings and ideas surrounding the gender pay gap in the UK and what can be done to close it. 

Questionnaire Grid

Find out more about the key topic areas available in the questionnair that focus on political and social attitudes.

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