British Social Attitudes 23rd report: Perspectives on a Changing Society

The 23rd British Social Attitudes Report – Perspectives on a Changing Society – was published on Wednesday 24 January 2007, by the National Centre for Social Research.

The latest Report assesses the consequences for public attitudes of a number of recent, fundamental social changes – including the emergence of radical Islamic terrorism; an ageing society; the huge growth of the internet; globalisation and increasingly competitive labour markets; and a change of government.

Among the findings:

  • Overwhelming majorities of the public are willing to give up various freedoms to tackle the threat of terrorism – four in five think that following people suspected of involvement with terrorism, tapping their phones and opening their mail is ‘a price worth paying’.
  • Commitment to civil liberties is in decline: in 1990, 40% disagreed that every adult should carry an ‘identity card’; this figure has nearly halved to 22%.
  • The current law that prohibits assisted dying is at odds with public opinion – four out of five people in Britain say that the law should allow a doctor to end someone’s life at the person’s request if they have an incurable and painful illness from which they will die.
  • ‘Britishness’ is in decline – fewer people say that ‘British’ is the best or only way of describing themselves now than 10 years ago, and this is partly due to an increase in feelings of ‘Englishness’
  • Compared with the 1960s, there has been no decline in the proportion of people identifying with a social class. More people still identify with the working class than the middle class.

The press release includes brief summaries of the findings of all 10 chapters.

Intute: Social Sciences links to more resources on the issue of Social Research