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Moral panic… June 15, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Anyone see this research here from Kings College London on attitudes to ‘culture wars’ in the UK. It’s genuinely fascinating because it suggests that in the general public at least there’s a fair bit more sense about these matters than in the media. For example:

Three-quarters of the public think divisions in the UK are exaggerated by the media, and around four in 10 believe politicians invent or overemphasise “culture wars” – but Britons still see such conflicts as a real problem and half think the country is the most divided it’s been during their lifetime, according to a new study.

That latter is hardly a surprise given the irruption of Brexit into the body politic and the consequent stresses upon the fabric of the Union. But in fairness it does go deeper than that.

This is interesting:

Half (51%) disagree that culture wars only exist in the media and social media, not real life, compared with just 12% who agree and a quarter (27%) who don’t have a view.

  • The public are more likely to agree than disagree that the UK is divided by culture wars (46% vs 8%) – but not hugely more likely than they are to not have a position at all on the issue (37%).
  • Brexit and differences by wealth are seen as particular sources of tensions within the UK, with 38% thinking there is a great deal of tension between Leavers and Remainers, and 34% feeling the same about relations between rich and poor. People also see tensions on immigration, politics and cultural values, and the “metropolitan elite” vs “ordinary working people” – but less so between genders, by education level, or between cities and others.

I’ve long been struck by both the ephemerality and marginal aspect of so much that comes under the ‘culture wars’ term. Issues rise and fall with remarkable speed, moving in and out of the public eye in a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ sort of fashion. And, that public eye is often one that is largely confined to social media and media often functioning in tandem, reflecting one another. 

Many have noted that there’s a massive disconnect between expressions of participation online and actual outcomes on the ground in marches and protests. Even the flare up of entirely justified concern and anger – as expressed in support for Black Lives Matter – last year where there was significant offline participation seems to, at this remove, seem rather distant and without clear follow through. 

This is troubling in parts:

  • The public are split on whether the UK’s culture is changing too fast (35%) or whether it’s not (32%) – but Conservative (54%) and Leave supporters (57%) are more than twice as likely as their Labour (23%) and Remain (20%) counterparts to feel this way.
  • 24% of the public say when it comes to giving Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups equal rights with white people, things have gone far enough in the UK – but this rises to 45% among Leave supporters, almost four times the proportion of Remainers (12%) who feel the same.
  • 18% of the population overall believe equal rights between women and men have gone far enough in the UK, with Conservatives (28%) around twice as likely as Labour supporters (13%) to agree with this view.

Yet even those statistics suggests that most people do agree that there’s considerable work yet to complete in those projects. 
And what about class?

And despite a greater focus on the UK’s cultural divides in recent times, the public are still more likely than not to say the country is more divided by class than it was 20 years ago – 48% think this is the case, compared with 22% who believe class-based divisions have reduced. Labour supporters (58%) are also more likely than Conservatives (38%) to feel we’re now more divided by class.

One other point:

Labour supporters (30%) are nearly twice as likely as Conservatives (16%) to say most of the people they interact with online share their political views.

And this isn’t just because Labour supporters are more likely to use social media – a similar pattern can be seen when looking only at supporters of both parties who use social media on a daily basis.

In general, Labour supporters are more likely to say people they come into contact with – such as colleagues (37% vs 28%) or close friends (61% vs 47%) – largely agree with them on politics.

I’d hesitantly suggest that it is crucial to know and engage with people who have different viewpoints to one’s own. And to do so not simply online, but more importantly offline. Otherwise there’s a granularity, a nuance, that can be missed – a sense that the most vocal and strident voices of those who oppose one are representative of all, rather than, as is usually the case, there being a spectrum of opinion from disinterest to agreement to caution or a degree of aversion and on to outright antagonism.

And keep in mind this:

The study shows that 61% of respondents had heard “little to nothing” about key phrases such as “identity politics”, “micro aggression” or “cancel culture”.

That tells its own story. 

Comments»

1. Zorin001 - June 15, 2021

Quite timely that the Guardian have conducted an interview with Samuel Kasumu, who quit as the Governments race advisor

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/15/people-have-already-forgotten-jo-cox-samuel-kasumu-on-why-he-quit-as-no-10s-race-adviser

He’s worried that the government stoking the Culture Wars will end up provoking a serious tragedy, unfortunately I believe hes right. He appeaes reluctant to criticize special advisor Munira Mirza too much but I believe that both her and her husband deserve a lot of criticism, by all accounts the Culture War strategy is their baby and Mirza in particular deserves a critical eye for allegedly interfering in the recent, much maligned, eace report.

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WorldbyStorm - June 15, 2021

Thanks for the steer on the interview above. I missed that. It’s such a hollow thing too, this Culture War. Most people are getting on fine without having to have matters framed through it but I think Kasumu is right too. I think his point re Jo Cox is spot on – there’s definitely an overlap there.

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2. benmadigan - June 15, 2021

“Even the flare up of entirely justified concern and anger – as expressed in support for Black Lives Matter – last year where there was significant offline participation seems to, at this remove, seem rather distant and without clear follow through”.

Was the BLM flare-up the latest slave rebellion as James Baldwin, friend of Martin Luther King, called the 1960s Civil Rights campaign? It has served to raise awareness of the issue of discrimination against people of colour among members of society who may not have previously thought much about it or the implications of being Black in a predominantly white society like the USA and the UK.

Where the BLM movement goes from now on is unclear. It will probably have to enter local and national politics to effect whatever change it wants by means of modifications to laws or new laws. Time will tell how successful it is

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WorldbyStorm - June 15, 2021

Actually to add to your last point I guess Biden in the White House and the two senate seats in Georgia is part of that

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3. Bagetelle's Unvoiced Tantrums - June 15, 2021

In my decades of observing the right in UK/USA whinge about Culchure Woars it has become crystal clear to me that what they really mean is “People are no longer as racist as they were back in the golden days of N*s knowing their place at the back of the bus.”

Nothing more, nothing less.

Those making these arguments should be considered to have outed themselves and should either be boycotted or smacked repeatedly over the head with a sledgehammer.

The older I get the more I lean towards the latter, once having been a committed pacifist I am no longer.

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WorldbyStorm - June 16, 2021

It really feels that way that what people who push that line want is license to be racist or misogynistic or homophobic. Stuff em and I’m being more polite than they ever would be. I’m with you on that. They deserve no tolerance whatsoever.

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Bagatelle's Unalloyed Triumphs - June 16, 2021

To strike a note of optimism. We won.

I look at the attitudes and positions of GenX versus our predecessors and in every single instance we won and the old guard of all strips lost. The Mill/Zoomers coming up are even more radical than we are. So the winning is going to continue.

Been watching City on a Hill and bit of early Taggart and our victories become staggeringly clear and massive.

We won and we should remind ourselves of that from time to time lest we lose sight of that while we continue to fight at the coalface.

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WorldbyStorm - June 16, 2021

Fair point Bagatelle. I’ve been reading about the 2020 election in the US and one big problem Trump faced was growing his coalition. Even in the US, culture wars and all, hdd Ed had a hell of a hill to climb and he couldn’t do it. That has to say something even if I’m sure none of us think Biden much kop but it points to the need to guard the gains and consolidate them.

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Bagatelle's Unhyped Toasters - June 17, 2021

Trump lost because of COVID. I’ve seen a lot of rubbish written, most of it written with the intent of ensuring there’s never another Sanders threat to the Dem party. If there hadn’t been a pandemic his administration botched he would have won a narrow victory over Biden. Biden was that awful, and the Sanders people were done with the Dem party after the primary BS.

My (semi-joking) take on Biden is that for once dementia are working in our favour, he’s gone so senile that he’s come to believe the political persona he’s projected for decades and acts it out. That snapping at the BBC on election night “I’m Irish” was a bit of a tell in that regard.

You are of course right, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. It can always, all be lost. Yet when I think back to the dark days of 80s Ireland and the racism of the US, by god have we won every single battle we set out to win then. And now Juneteenth is an official holiday.

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