New research has found that eight out of ten people in Britain are afraid to discuss politics with anyone from another class or race, due to fears about exacerbating divisions in the country’s increasingly segregated society.
The survey asked 21,672 adults across England, Scotland and Wales who they talked politics with, before getting them to name three people who they would be happy to discuss political subjects with. After selecting their three, they were then asked to give the social and ethnic characteristics of their choices.
Out of the 21,672 participants in the study, 16,352 said they did discuss politics with other people. However, 80.3 percent of people said they only talked about the subject with people from the same social class as them, while only 13.3 percent revealed they spoke about political subjects with people from a different social class.
In terms of race, 89.8 percent of women said they only discussed politics with people of the same ethnicity. 86.7 percent of men who took part said the same thing.
So what does this tell us? Speaking to The Times, Oliver Lee, chief executive of social inclusion charity The Challenge, said: ‘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.’
At ACAA, we go great lengths to ensure that the people we work with have every opportunity to engage with their communities, no matter their race, background, or social standing. Take, for example, our education programme, which offers Esol (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes to all members of the community over the age of 16. Learning English dramatically improves our members’ education and employment prospects, but this is only the start.
The importance of day to day conversations cannot be underestimated. Our ability to communicate with our neighbours shapes our communities as a whole; it allows us to discuss issues, address problems and simply develop a sense of understanding, if not outright friendship. Although this may not equate to fruitful political debate when we bump into someone while shopping, the acceptance that different Britons can have roots in other cultures, while flourishing in another, will lead to a more open society in Britain.
Education programmes like ours work to erode these divisions by giving our members the confidence to communicate. Hopefully, in the future, Britons won’t be quite as reserved as the participants in this study.
For more information about our ESOL courses, head to the Education section of our website.