PhD Opportunity: Changing Public Attitudes to Inequality, Poverty and Redistribution

This studentship aims to advance understanding of trends in social attitudes towards poverty and inequality in Britain by undertaking secondary analysis of existing datasets derived from the British and Scottish Social Attitudes surveys. It will be supervised jointly by Dr Christopher Deeming and Professor Sir John Curtice at the University of Strathclyde and the placement supervisor, Angelica Lorenzo from Community Analytical Services at the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government has a strong anti-poverty policy agenda, based on social investment and inclusive growth, and is committed to ending child poverty and reducing inequality. Yet the UK has relatively high levels of poverty and inequality for a rich country, while little progress has been made in recent years to reduce them. Scotland has not been immune from this pattern. Further governmental action is therefore likely to be necessary in future if poverty and inequality are to be reduced. Yet the legitimacy and effectiveness of such action will depend in part at least on public consent and support for policies that promote a fairer and more equal society. This studentship will utilise the rich legacy of data on the subject that has been collected by the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey since 1983 and the parallel Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) survey since 1999 and which will be combined to undertake a comprehensive study of the sources of support for and opposition to policies designed to reduce poverty and inequality in Scotland and England.

The specific aims and objectives of this studentship project are to:

  • examine and report on how public attitudes to inequality, poverty and redistribution in Scotland and England have changed over the past four decades.
  • examine what people in Scotland and England think about governmental action to address poverty and inequality.
  • consider the extent to which attitudes vary and have changed over time across different sections of the population, social groups and geographical areas, regions, countries.
  • consider empirically the relationship between poverty and inequality – for example, how do rises and falls in the level of poverty influence public opinion?
  • consider how support for government action varies across party preference, and the underlying values on which people draw when forming their opinions on issues to do with inequality.

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