03.08.2017

The vast majority of us don’t talk about current affairs with anyone from a different social class or ethnicity to ourselves, analysis from The Challenge reveals.

 Current affairsOur analysis of a poll of more than 16,300 voters from England, Scotland and Wales was covered in The Times and the Daily Mail, and shows:

  •  Almost 90% of us only talk about current affairs with people from the same ethnic group as ourselves, with White Britons least likely of all to speak to other ethnicities.
  •  As many as 80% of us don’t talk about current affairs with anyone from a different social class to ourselves, but middle-class professionals are slightly more likely to do so than those in routine or manual jobs.
  •  As we get older, we are far less likely to discuss current affairs with anyone from a different social class or ethnicity to ourselves. Those aged over 55 are two and a half times less likely to speak to other ethnicities and 40% less likely to speak to other social classes than those aged between 18 and 25.
  • Scots are less likely than the English or Welsh to talk about current affairs with those from a different social class to themselves, despite the country’s reputation as a bastion for social mixing. Meanwhile, those living in the North-West of England are less likely to speak to people from a different ethnic group than elsewhere in Britain.
  • The more patriotic we are, the less likely we are to talk with those from a different ethnic group to ourselves. More than 91% of those who say they feel either “very strongly British” or “very strongly English” don’t talk to anyone from a different ethnicity about current affairs. This falls to 85% for those who say they do not feel "very strongly British" and 83% of the not "very strongly English". 

The poll, which is a nationally representative sample of more than 16,300 voters, is part of the British Election Study, a project by a group of academics from Britain’s leading universities. Pollsters asked voters if they could think of anyone they “sometimes talk to about politics”. They were then asked for extra information about these people, such as their ethnicity and social class.

The Challenge, the UK’s leading social integration charity, independently analysed the findings. Responding to the analysis, Oliver Lee OBE, Chief Executive of The Challenge, said:

“These findings show a lack of contact between people from different ethnicities and social classes. This is further evidence that we live in a segregated society. We know that when we don’t talk to people who come from different walks of life to ourselves, anxiety and prejudice flourish, whereas when we hear one another’s views, for example by talking about current affairs together, we form more trusting, cohesive communities.

“Social integration can be thought about in terms of the extent to which strong social ties inspire bonds of trust and solidarity between people of all backgrounds. These findings should act as a wake-up call for more social integration initiatives to heal our divided society. One such initiative, the National Citizen Service, which my organisation helps to deliver, enables young people from all different backgrounds to mix and meet.”