Last week, I represented Miller Research at a conference about the relationship between ‘young people’ and the outcome of the EU referendum of June 2016, organised by WISERD (Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data & Methods).
The Conference was the culmination of the Young People and Brexit research project, an interdisciplinary study of how young people in the UK feel about and respond to the UK’s exit from the European Union. For a day, researchers from WISERD, other academics, politicians, civil society organisations and young people themselves were brought together to discuss their research.
The morning’s presentations comprised emerging findings and insights from the project’s research into youth engagement and participation in politics. First up was Chris Curtis of YouGov, who presented insights that are starting to emerge from the company’s post-general election survey of 50,000 people. Whilst still provisional, the results reflect the commentariat’s consensus that age is now the starkest dividing line in British politics:
‘In fact, for every 10 years older a voter is, their chance of voting Tory increases by around nine points and the chance of them voting Labour decreases by nine points. The tipping point, that is the age at which a voter is more likely to have voted Conservative than Labour, is now 47 – up from 34 at the start of the campaign.’ (Chris Curtis, YouGov, 13 June 2017)
[Source: YouGov, https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/06/13/how-britain-voted-2017-general-election/]
The first panel session of the morning honed in on the issue of young people and the EU referendum:
- Dr James Sloam presented insights into young people’s support of the status quo, using data collected through a bespoke survey conducted at Royal Holloway, University of London
- Professor Matt Henn presented findings from the #Votebecause project, which also investigated university students’ attitudes to the political class
- Dr Rhian Barrance used WISERDEducation project data to explore the impact of the referendum on Welsh young people’s support for votes for 16 year-olds
The second panel I attended investigated the (potential) legacy of Brexit:
- Dr Stuart Fox and Dr Sioned Pearce used panel data from the British Election Study to examine the impact of the referendum on the political enagagement of young people (‘Millenials are the most politically apathetic generation in the history of British survey research’)
- Dr Avril Keating of the Centre for Global Youth presented findings of qualitative research undertaken into students’ attitudes and aspirations in Brexit Britain
- Professor Andy Mycock reflected on his work with young people in Greater Manchester around devolution within England and its impact on youth citizenship.
After lunch, I attended a session on the impact of Brexit on Welsh language and identity, in which data from the WISERD Civil Society, a film that presented the views of Welsh-speaking young people, and a discussion with Catrin James (Urdd Goabith Cymru) were used to begin to assess the vote’s impact on young people’s sense of civic identity.
Overall, it was a thought-provoking day, and it was pleasing to see qualitative and quantitative data being used in such a complementary way. The only slight surprise was the lack of talk about social media and its role both as:
- a means through which young people are informed about and engage with politics
- a huge source of data to be analysed
Perhaps the latter is something for Miller Research to explore in the future, with the help of our sister company Blurrt?
You can find out more about the Young People and Brexit: One Year On Conference here.