NatCen describe themselves as “Britain’s largest independent social research agency”, one that works “on behalf of government and charities to find out what people really think about important social issues” and while they produce a lot of statistical stuff™ that’s probably of interest to someone, of most interest to a-level sociology teachers and students will probably be the fact NatCen is responsible for carrying-out the British Attitudes Survey – an annual questioning of around 3,000 respondents on a wide diversity of topics.
This research is useful for a-level sociologists for, I would hazard, four main reasons:
1. It’s free:
While this is always one of my top considerations when thinking about social research, “free” is not in and of itself always very useful.
2. It’s authoritative:
Coupled to “free” this feature makes it a very valuable commodity. The commentaries that accompany the research data are generally written by some of the most well-known and authoritative researchers in their field. The research on religion I’ve previously posted, for example, has an accompanying commentary by Steve Bruce (Professor of Sociology at the University of Aberdeen, as opposed to the (soon-to-be-ex-) Manager of Newcastle United, in case there’s any doubt. While football might be the “New Religion” and 50-odd thousand fans may religiously congregate (did you see what I did there?) at St James’ Park every other week to watch their team, Steve Bruce (the manager) lays no claim, as far as I’m aware, to academic authority in the field of religion. Or the field of dreams, come to that. But that’s another story) and David Voas, Professor of Social Science at University College London.
3. It’s current:
Getting your hands on up-to-date material is always a bonus.
4. It’s student-friendly:
Someone’s put a lot of thought into how to present what is, when all’s said and done, a load of statistical tables accompanied by a lot of words explaining their significance and how to interpret them. The presentation is well-suited to a-level.
As I’ve suggested, the Surveys (which cover 2012 – 2018 on the web site) are a bit of a mixed-bag as far as a-level sociology’s concerned (there probably won’t be too many takers for the chapter on the EU Debate, for example) so I’ve taken the liberty of saving you the trouble of trawling through the available chapters by selecting those Surveys I think will be of most use / interest (although you’re more than welcome to dig through them yourself).