People’s ideological beliefs are an important factor in their political engagement and can influence not only whether but also how they get involved in politics. Such Ideological beliefs are often organised along two dimensions relating to economic views (state intervention and redistribution versus private enterprise and inequality) and social views (authority versus liberty), and the survey asked a series of questions about both. Figure 1 (above, using weighted data) shows the distribution of answers relating to six specific economic beliefs.
Approaching half of people (46.9%) think that the state should be involved in redistribution (panel A), whilst three in ten (28.8%) who think that it should not. The remaining quarter of people (24.2%) are ambivalent and can see both pluses and minuses to the state being involved in redistribution. This is the ideological belief that people are most evenly divided on. By contrast, three quarters of people (75.3%) agree that big business takes advantage of ordinary people, only one in ten (9.2%) disagree, and the remaining one in six (15.5%) are ambivalent. This is a similarly left-leaning distribution of answers to those relating to all but one of the other economic beliefs:
- Two thirds of people (68.4%) think that ordinary working people do not get their fair share of the nation’s wealth (panel C), whilst one in seven (14.5%) think that they do and one in six (17.1%) are ambivalent.
- Seven in ten people (70.9%) think that there is one law for the rich and another for the poor (panel D), one in eight (12.5%) think that there is not, and one in five (18.5%) are ambivalent.
- Seven in ten people (69.0%) think that management always tries to take advantage of employees (panel E) whilst one in eight (12.5%) think that is not the case and one in five (18.5%) are ambivalent.
By contrast, there is one economic belief on which people tend towards a right-wing position: the role of private enterprise in the economy. More than two fifths of people (44.2%) think that private enterprise is best placed to solve the country’s economic problems, whilst roughly half as many (22.7%) think that it is not. This leaves a third (33.1%) who can see both sides of the argument, which is the largest ambivalent group relating to any of the economic beliefs, perhaps reflecting the more technical nature of the question.
Overall, then, the population tend towards left-wing positions in their economic beliefs, with the exception of their view of private enterprise as a positive force in the economy. The distributions of the answers to the five other questions are suggestive of a single underlying economic dimension of ideology, which would mean that people tend to have similar positions on each of the questions. Whether this underlying ideological dimension exists remains to be seen, as do people’s beliefs about the desirability of authority and liberty in relation to social questions.
|Variable names||poli_lr_redistright, poli_lr_bigbusleft,|
|Number of cases||1,405|
|Number of categories||6|
|Categories to code as missing||6 (‘Don’t know’)|
|Cases to code as missing||26-200|
|Recoded variable name||pv_lrred_mv, pv_lrbig_mv, pv_lrfai_mv,|
pv_lrlaw_mv, pv_lrman_mv, pv_lrpri_mv
|Number of cases||1,205-1,379|
|Number of categories||5|
|New and old categories||People who answered ‘Don’t know’ (6) on an|
original variable were coded as missing on
the equivalent new variable. The new
variables retain the substantive categories
from the original variables:
– 1. ‘Strongly disagree’
– 2. ‘Disagree’
– 3. ‘Both disagree and agree’
– 4. ‘Agree’
– 5. ‘Strongly agree’.