Half the public don’t know and don’t care about Parliament - August 18 2011
Connecting Citizens to Parliament - research from the Hansard Society published
today - demonstrates that half the public (52%) are not really interested in
Parliament and do not want to be involved in what it does.
The research explores which
communities and social groups are not engaging with Parliament, why and how
this might be redressed. It concludes that connecting with ‘hard to reach'
groups cannot be achieved by a sudden radical change of approach, but demands a
number of smaller cumulative step-changes, many of which Parliament can
initiate or suggest but cannot necessarily lead.
Citizens to Parliament research is based on a quantitative survey of
2,005 adults and five qualitative semi-structured focus groups. It confirms that
social class and age are the strongest determining factors for engagement.
Barriers to engagement include:
Parliament itself because of arcane traditions
and the complexity of its processes and procedures
The narrow range and overall lack of parliamentary
coverage in the media
Weaknesses in the delivery of political literacy
education in schools, in the community and voluntary sector
The dearth of informal learning opportunities
through public libraries and social networks.
Citizens to Parliament identified the importance of face-to-face
contact and the local area as key themes combined with the value of Parliament
coming to the people rather than expecting people to come to Parliament and the
necessity of placing information about Parliament in accessible places where
citizens live out their daily lives. Recommendations for action include:
Availability of easy-to-read information on
Parliament's business and relevance to local life and topical issues in a
number of different formats (print and digital)
Wider engagement in third-party online spaces
such as MumsNet and MoneySavingExpert.com
Use of popular newspapers to advertise when
public consultations are being held
Development of a programme for trainee
journalists to raise awareness of an interest in the work of Parliament
Wider use of Citizen Juries and local meetings
in order to feed back the public's views
Development of a national network of
educators/ambassadors at local and regional level who can actively disseminate
information in their own community spaces and workplaces.
Dr Andy Williamson, Director of the
Hansard Society's Digital Democracy programme, commented: ‘Parliament has done
a lot of work to improve public awareness but is still only able to reach a
fraction of the public. There remains a large group of citizens who don't know
and don't care about Parliament. This can't be good for our democracy. Our
recommendations for action involve not just Parliament but other vital players
such as educationalists and the media who can take the lead in encouraging
citizens to learn more about how Parliament affects their lives and what part
they can play in its work'
further information, contact Virginia Gibbons, Head of Communications at
the Hansard Society on 020 7438 1225 or email@example.com
Hansard Society is the UK's
leading independent, non-partisan political research and education
Hansard Society Digital Democracy Programme's thought-leading
research has been a formative part of an emergent digital Britain from the
internet's impact on Parliament, to better government engagement with
citizens and the potential for civil society to harness digital media. The
Digital Democracy Programme undertakes research and produces publications
and commentaries with a focus on online political communication and
citizen engagement, exploring the many faces of digital inclusion, citizen
engagement, political campaigning and parliamentary process.
Citizens to Parliament survey was carried out online by ICM with a
random sample of 2,005 adults (aged 18 or over) across Great Britain between August
25 and 26, 2010.
Citizens to Parliament focus groups were held in Peterborough,
Poplar, Nairn, Sheffield and Usk between
April and August 2010.