British Social Attitudes
Focusing on Diversity
`I've always enjoyed reading the British Social Attitudes survey, which shows what the British people really think, as opposed to what journalists and politicians like to pretend they think' - John Pilger
Britain is a well-documented nation. We know a lot about the characteristics of our society - who we are and what we do. We know much less about what we think and feel about our world and ourselves.
The indispensable annual British Social Attitudes survey fills this gap. It compiles, describes and comments on a range of current social attitudes. The information is derived from interviews carried out by the National Centre for Social Research's own interviewers among a nationwide sample of around 3,500 people each year. The series seeks to chart changes in British social values over a period of time in relation to other changes in society, and is core-funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. A full report is published each year.
The 17th Report summarizes and interprets data from the most recent survey, as well as making comparisons with findings from previous years. The data are publicly available through the ESRC Data Archive at the University of Essex.
We were very sorry to hear that Sir Roger Jowell passed away over Christmas. Roger was the Founder and Director of the National Centre for Social Research, Britain's largest social research institute until 2001, and in 2008 was knighted for his services to the social sciences. We were very privileged to have worked with Roger as an author and friend for many years, most notably on one of his legacy works, the British Social Attitudes report series. In 1983 when it first launched, it was already a significant undertaking, surveying 1700 people in its first year. In an era where surveys were ad hoc and sporadic, work like this made it clear how important tracking opinion and trends over time would be. Writing in that first edition, Roger wrote: "The term 'public opinion' is in itself misleading. Our data demonstrate that on nearly all social issues there are actually several publics and many opinions." Published by SAGE since 2000 it is now in its 28th volume and continues to be just as challenging, and as important. Roger was also co-founder and Director of the European Social Survey (ESS), a 34-nation comparative study of changing social values throughout Europe. We published the initial book of methods and findings: Measuring Attitudes Cross-Nationally: Lessons from the European Social Survey in 2007. A key figure for the social sciences he was also, simply, an extremely nice man and a pleasure to work with. He will be greatly missed. John Curtice is a Research Consultant at the Scottish Centre for Social Research, Deputy Director of CREST, and Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University. Alison joined NatCen in 1991, after completing an M.Phil. in Sociology at Nuffield College, Oxford. Her core areas of research are social, political and moral attitudes and values. As Head of Society and Social Change, Alison manages the team responsible for the British Social Attitudes Survey series. These annual surveys focus on people's attitudes towards a wide range of issues, and the results form the basis of an annual book, published by Sage. Alison is closely involved with the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), a cross-national study of social attitudes, and is the ESRC-funded UK Co-ordinator for the 2002 to 2012 rounds of the European Social Survey. She makes regular radio and television contributions concerning social trends, and was a member of the 2003 Fabian Society Commission on the Future of the Monarchy. Katarina Thomson is a freelance editor and a former Research Director at NatCen Catherine is involved in a number of ScotCen's studies with a particular focus on surveys. She has been director of the 2008-11 Scottish Health Survey and is involved in all stages of the project from questionnaire design through to reporting. The wide range of topics and policy areas covered in this one study make it a fascinating project to work on: from child obesity to adult dental health and alcohol consumption. As Deputy Director of ScotCen Catherine is also very involved in the day to day management of the organization, but maintains a strong involvement with projects, meaning that her research skills are put to good use regularly. Research interests Attitude formation Elections Governance and democracy