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Developing a national barometer of prejudice and discrimination in Britain

October 12th 2018

This is the first national survey of prejudice in Britain for over a decade. It measures prejudice and discrimination experienced by people with a wide range of protected characteristics.

The aim of this report is to demonstrate the value of using a national survey of this type to measure people’s experiences of prejudice in Britain, as well as people’s attitudes towards others. It also aims to set a benchmark for future surveys.

This is the first national survey of prejudice for over a decade. It measures prejudice and discrimination in Britain experienced by people with a wide range of protected characteristics: age, disability, race, sex, religion or belief, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment.

This report demonstrates the value of using a national survey of this type to measure prejudice and discrimination in Britain and to set out a benchmark for future surveys. The purpose of this research is to help establish a national ‘barometer’ for monitoring changes in the attitudes and experiences of the general population.

The research was designed by Professor Dominic Abrams and Dr Hannah Swift from the Centre for the Study of Group Processes, University of Kent, and Professor Diane Houston from Birkbeck, University of London. It was conducted by the National Centre for Social Research. They were commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to design and run a national survey of prejudice, using a consistent set of measures across a range of protected characteristics. They surveyed 2,853 adults in Britain using the NatCen Panel surveys and carried out an additional survey to target minority groups that may otherwise not be well represented in the survey.

Their approach provides new insights into the form and prevalence of prejudice and discrimination in Britain. Measuring these issues in a consistent way across protected characteristics groups and across England, Scotland and Wales, gives us a uniquely recent and comparable overview. It enables us to look across a range of measures to paint a meaningful picture of the prejudice affecting a particular protected characteristic, rather than looking at individual measures on their own. Although it does not yet provide a picture of prejudice and discrimination for all protected characteristics – which would require a larger and further-developed survey – it sets out a workable model for a future national instrument for monitoring these issues in Britain.

This report provides an overview of what they have found out about people’s experiences and expressions of prejudice in Britain.

Read the Survey