Britain is not a society that is polarised between two extremes. That is a headline finding of our report. Instead, we can be categorised into different segments on the basis of our core beliefs and psychology. Across the spectrum of issue areas, combinations of segments align in agreement – sometimes quite unexpectedly, as the examples given throughout our report demonstrate. The segments themselves are heterogenous. For example, while there may be a general trend of voting behaviour among the segment, significant minorities within the group may choose different parties based on specific issues that appeal to them.
Progressive Activists are highly-educated, urban, and more likely than any other group to be in work. They think globally and are motivated to fight inequality and injustice. Their sense of personal identity is connected to their strong political and social beliefs. They are often supporters of Labour, the Greens and, in Scotland, the SNP. They like to take part in debates and have their voice heard. They are far more active in posting about politics on social media than any other group, and are big consumers of news from many sources, with The Guardian newspaper a big favourite.
Civic Pragmatists are well-informed about issues and often have clear opinions, but their social and political beliefs are generally not central to their sense of personal identity. Women outnumber men in this segment by two to one. They stand out for the strength of their commitment to others. For example, almost all Civic Pragmatists regularly donate to charity, and they show strong support for civic values and community, consensus, and compromise. More than any other group, they feel exhausted by the division in politics. Like all seven segments, they use the BBC to get their news, although Civic Pragmatists are also more likely to watch Channel 5 than other groups.
Disengaged Battlers are focused on the everyday struggle for survival. They have work, but often it is insecure or involves irregular hours. They tend to feel disconnected from other people, and many say they have given up on the system altogether. They are less connected to others in their local area as well, and are the only group where a majority felt that they have been alone during the Covid-19 pandemic. Although life is tough for Disengaged Battlers, they blame the system, not other people. Disengaged Battlers mostly do not pay much attention to news, but if they do it is most likely to be through the BBC, The Daily Mirror, The Metro, or commercial radio news.
Educated, comfortable, and often quite wealthy, Established Liberals feel at ease in their own skin – as well as the country they live in. They tend to trust the government, institutions, and those around them. They are almost twice as likely than any other group to feel that their voices are represented in politics. They are also most likely to believe that people can change society if they work together. They think compromise is important, feel that diversity enriches society and think Britain should be more globally-oriented. More than any other group they choose to read The Times newspaper, but also listen to BBC Radio 4.
Loyal Nationals feel proud of their country and patriotic about its history and past achievements. They also feel anxious about threats to Britain, in the face of which they believe we need to come together and pursue our national self-interest. Loyal Nationals carry a deep strain of frustration at having their views and values excluded by decision-makers in London. They feel disrespected by educated elites, and feel more generally that others’ interests are often put ahead of theirs. Loyal Nationals believe we live in a dog-eat-dog world, and that Britain is often naïve in its dealing with other countries. Loyal Nationals get their news from The Daily Mail, The Sun, and ITV. In common with the Progressive Activists, with whom they also share a strong focus on inequality, they also get a lot of information from Facebook and local newspapers.
Disengaged Traditionalists value a feeling of self-reliance and take pride in a hard day’s work. They believe in a well-ordered society and put a strong priority on issues of crime and justice. When they think about social and political debates, Disengaged Traditionalists often consider issues through a lens of suspicion towards others’ behaviour and observance of Britain’s social rules. While they do have viewpoints on issues, they tend to pay limited attention to public debates. They have views in common with the Loyal Nationals, but see society differently, mainly through the lens of individuals rather than groups.
are proud to be British and confident of their place in the world. They tend to be older and more prosperous than others, with many living in the South East. They are nostalgic about Britain’s history, cultural heritage, and the monarchy, but looking to the future they are also the only group where a majority think that the country is going in the right direction. They are very interested in social and political issues, follow the news closely, and are stalwart supporters of the Conservative Party. Compared to most people, Backbone Conservatives are more negative on immigration, less concerned about racism, more supportive of public spending cuts and less convinced that there is a North/South divide. In addition to the BBC, their preferred sources of news are The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, and The Daily Express.