beta

You're viewing our new website - find out more

Publication - Research Publication

Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2015: Attitudes to Social Networks, Civic Participation and Co-production

Published: 29 Aug 2016
Part of:
Research
ISBN:
9781786523884

Report of the findings from the 2015 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey.

42 page PDF

818.0kB

42 page PDF

818.0kB

Contents
Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2015: Attitudes to Social Networks, Civic Participation and Co-production
3 Civic participation, volunteering, community action and contact with local community groups

42 page PDF

818.0kB

3 Civic participation, volunteering, community action and contact with local community groups

Civic participation

3.1 SSA 2015 included five questions regarding civic participation, volunteering, community action and contact with local community groups. These questions were:

  • In the last few years, have you ever done any of the following (list presented) as a way of registering what you personally thought about an issue?
  • Which, if any, of the following (list presented) did you do in connection with the Scottish independence referendum campaign that took place last September?
  • In the last few years, have you ever given up some of your time to do any of the following things (list presented) to help improve your local area?
  • How much do you agree, or disagree, that people in this area are able to find ways to improve things around here when they want to?
  • How often, if at all, do you use the internet to find out about or make contact with community groups or organisations that are based in your local area?

3.2 Since 2004, SSA has asked respondents which, if any, of a list of activities they had done as a way of registering what they thought about an issue. [4] Respondents were allowed to choose as many answers as applied to them. Before 2009 respondents were asked which of the activities they had 'ever done', whereas from 2009 onwards the question asked which activities people have done 'in the last few years'.

3.3 Table 1 below shows that the most commonly selected activities in 2015, chosen by around 1 in 5 or more were: signing a petition, giving money to a campaign or organisation, contacting the local council, an MP or MSP and attending a public meeting. The proportion of people in Scotland who have not been involved in any of the listed activities has continued to decline. In 2015, 31% stated that they had not undertaken any of the fifteen listed activities in the last few years, compared with 39% in 2013 and 45% in 2009.

3.4 In SSA 2015, the proportion of people in Scotland signing a petition continued to increase, with 43% reporting that they had done so in the last few years. This is an increase of five percentage points on 2013 (38%) and fifteen percentage points on 2009 (28%). The proportion of people giving money to a campaign or organisation also continued to rise. Just over a quarter (28%) said that they had given money to a campaign or organisation in the last few years compared with 22% in 2013 and 13% in 2009. Other commonly selected activities in 2015 were: contacting local councils (27%); contacting an MP or MSP (18%); and attending a public meeting (18%). There have been no significant increases in the proportions choosing these activities since 2009.

Table 1: Have done any of the activities listed in the last few years as a way of registering what they personally thought about an issue


2009* 2013* 2015*

% % %
Signed a petition (including online petitions) 28 38 43
Given money to a campaign or organisation 13 22 28
Contacted my local council 23 26 27
Contacted an MP or MSP 17 16 18
Attended a public meeting 14 15 18
No, have not done any of these 45 39 31
Sample size 1482 1497 1288

*Responses sum to more than 100% as respondents could choose multiple options.
The table shows the most commonly chosen categories. For full results see Table A7 in Annex A.
Base: All respondents

3.5 Those who had not done any of the listed civic activities were more likely to be less well educated (47% of those with no formal qualifications compared with 17% of those with degrees) and more likely to live in the most deprived quintile (40% compared with 23% in the least deprived quintile). They were also more likely to be in the lowest income group (35% compared with 21% in the highest) and more likely to think that you can't be too careful in dealing with people (37% compared with 26% who thought that most people can be trusted).

3.6 There were significant differences in whether people had done any of the listed civic activities, or not, between different groups in society. Those educated to degree level were more likely to be involved in civic participation activities than those with lower levels of, or no, formal qualifications (83% of those with degrees compared with 53% of those with no formal qualifications). Households earning above £26,000 were also more likely to have taken part in at least one type of civic participation (77%, compared with 65% of those households earning less than £26,000). Those living in the least deprived quintile were also more likely than those living in the most deprived quintile to have done at least one of the activities to register what they thought on an issue in the last few years (77% in areas in the least deprived quintile compared with 60% of those living in areas in the most deprived quintile). [5] And those who were working were more likely than those who were retired to have done one of the activities (73% of those in work compared with 63% of those who were retired). Nearly three-quarters (74%) of those who said that 'most people can be trusted' had done at least one of the activities to register their views on an issue, compared with 63% of those who felt 'you can't be too careful in dealing with people' (See Table A8 in Annex A for further details).

3.7 People who felt that they belonged to their local area were more likely to have done at least one activity to register their views on an issue compared with those who did not feel that they belonged to their local area, as were those who met socially with people at least a few times a month compared with those who met socially less often. Those who agreed that they had people in their local area to turn to for advice and support were also more likely to have registered their views than those who disagreed.

Civic participation in relation to the Scottish independence referendum

3.8 In 2015, SSA also asked respondents which of the ways they had registered what they thought of an issue had been done in connection with the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. [6] Around 3 in 10 (31%) who had registered their views in the last few years said that at least one of these activities had been in connection with the referendum. The most commonly selected activities done in relation to the Scottish independence referendum were attending a public meeting (12%), signing a petition (11%) and giving money to a campaign or organisation (9%). Seven per cent had contacted an MP or MSP, or actively taken part in a campaign (e.g. leafleting, stuffing envelopes etc.) (see Table A9 in Annex A for details).

3.9 In contrast to the differences between groups who had taken part in some form of civic participation in relation to the referendum, differences were only seen by age and education (see Table A10 in Annex A for details). Younger people were more likely than older people to have taken part in an activity related to the Scottish independence referendum (44% of 18 to 29 year olds compared with 26% of those aged 65 or over). Those with degrees or Highers were also more likely to have engaged in at least one of the activities in relation to the Scottish independence referendum: 34% compared with 23% of those with Standard Grades or no formal qualifications.

Volunteering

3.10 Respondents were asked whether they had given up their time to help improve their local area in the last few years by engaging in a range of different community activities [7] . Table 2 below shows that the most popular activity undertaken was volunteering at a local community organisation or charity, which around a third said they had done in the last few years (35%). The next most commonly chosen community activities were helping to organise a community event (17%) and trying to stop something happening in their local area (11%). Over half (54%) said that they had not given up their time to do any of the listed community activities to help improve their local area in the last few years.

Table 2: Whether people have given up some of their time in the last few years to do any of the things listed to help improve their local area


2015*

%
No, have not done any of these 54
Volunteered or helped out at a local community organisation or charity (e.g. a youth club, community cafe or charity supporting older people) 35
Helped to organise a community event (e.g. a street party or fundraising event) 17
Tried to stop something happening in my local area (e.g. a new business that you object to or the closure of a local service) 11
Tried to set up a local community organisation 3
Other 1
Sample size 1288

*Responses sum to more than 100% as respondents could choose multiple options.
Base: All respondents

3.11 There were differences in the level of community activity by education similar to those seen in relation to civic participation. Those educated to degree or Higher-level were more likely than those with Standard Grades or no formal qualifications to have given up their time to take part in at least one of the listed activities. Half of those with degrees (51%) had given up their time compared with only 3 in 10 of those with no formal qualifications (31%). Women were more likely than men to have given up their time to take part in at least one community activity (51% compared with 40% of men).

3.12 Area level differences were also evident with people living in rural areas more likely to have given up their time for a community activity (50%) compared with those living in urban areas (44%). People in the three least deprived quintiles were more likely than those in the two most deprived quintiles to have given up their time (49% compared with 40% respectively). Again, levels of general trust were associated with levels of community activity. Those who thought that 'most people can be trusted' were more likely (49%) than those who thought that 'you can't be too careful in dealing with people' (42%) to have given up their time for a community activity in the past few years (see Table A11 in Annex A for details).

Ability of local community to bring about change

3.13 The previous section covered questions about the types of civic and community activities people had themselves been involved in. SSA also asked people about their perceptions of the effectiveness of their local community to bring about change. The question was: 'How much do you agree, or disagree, that people in this area are able to find ways to improve things around here when they want to?' Around 3 in 5 either 'strongly agreed' or 'agreed' that people in their area are able to find ways to improve things when they want to (61%), with 11% disagreeing [8] and around a quarter (26%) neither agreeing nor disagreeing (see Table A12 in Annex A).

3.14 Regression analysis was used to determine which factors were significantly and independently associated with agreeing that 'people in this area are able to improve things around here if they want to'. [9] The analysis showed that whether people lived in urban or rural areas and how trusting people are in general were associated with agreeing that people are able to improve things in their local area (see Table A13 in Annex A for details). Those in remote or very remote rural areas were considerably more likely to agree that 'people in this area are able to improve things around here if they want to' (77%) compared with those living in large urban areas (56%). As were those who thought that 'most people can be trusted' compared with those who thought that 'you can't be too careful in dealing with people' (67% compared with 53% respectively).

Contact with local community groups

3.15 In 2015 SSA also asked respondents for the first time about their use of the internet for contacting local community groups or organisations. [10] A quarter said they used the internet either 'very' or 'quite often' to contact local community groups. Around a third said either 'not very often' or 'not at all often' (35%), and 4 in 10 said 'never'. There were differences by gender, age, education, income, whether people lived in rural or urban areas, working status, whether people had children living in the household and levels of general trust (see Tables A14 - A15 in Annex A for details).

3.16 Women were more likely than men to have used the internet 'very' or 'quite often' to contact local community groups (30% compared with 20% respectively), as were people under the age of 65 (28%) compared with those aged 65 and over (14%). People with any level of formal qualification were more likely than those with no formal qualifications to have used the internet 'very' or 'quite often' to contact local community groups (28% compared with 9% respectively), as were those in the highest income group (30%) compared with those in the lowest (19%). Where people lived also made a difference: those living in rural areas were more likely than those in urban areas to use the internet 'very' or 'quite often' to contact local community groups (32% compared with 22% respectively), but there were no differences by area deprivation. Those in work (27%) compared with those who were retired (16%) and those with children (aged 0 to 17 years old) living in the household (33%) compared with those without (21%) were all more likely to use the internet to contact local community groups frequently. And those who felt that 'most people can be trusted' (29%) used the internet more often to contact local community groups than those who thought 'you can't be too careful in dealing with people' (20%).


Contact

Email: Paul Sloan, socialresearch@gov.scot