The Economic and Social Research Council have announced that the next British Election Study will be hosted by a consortium led by The University of Manchester in collaboration with the Universities of Oxford and Nottingham.
The scientific leadership team for the 2015 Study will be Professor Ed Fieldhouse, Dr Jane Green, Professor Hermann Schmitt, all from The University of Manchester; Professor Geoff Evans, from Nuffield College, Oxford, and Professor Cees van der Eijk from Nottingham University.
Manchester’s Professor Fieldhouse said: “The British Election Study is one of the longest running election studies world-wide and is an invaluable resource for political scientists. It’s a great responsibility and privilege to oversee the direction of the study during such an interesting political period.”
ESRC Chief Executive Paul Boyle said: "The British Election Study provides a unique opportunity to inform our understanding of British electoral behaviour and its change over time. We are confident that the new team will be able to deliver a world-leading study which will build upon the excellent foundation provided to date."
Oxford’s Professor Geoffrey Evans added: “This is a great opportunity to understand central issues facing British democracy during a period of economic crisis, when old ideas about consensus politics are being increasingly questioned and social inequalities in political participation and representation are growing ever larger.”
Nottingham’s Professor Cees van der Eijk said: "Our design for the BES will link the study to other studies, within the UK and in other countries. That provides a larger scientific return on the investment, and a more considered perspective on British electoral politics. This is a great opportunity for innovation in electoral studies, and we are very happy to contribute to it.”
Previous studies have received high public and academic recognition and have made a major contribution to the understanding of political attitudes and behaviour over fifty years.
The Manchester-Oxford-Nottingham consortium takes over the study from the University of Essex and proposes some key changes of emphasis including a focus on the issues of accountability, representation and disengagement.
The study is designed to help our understanding of long-term political change, and in the role of national and sub-national variations in the political and social context in shaping citizens’ attitudes and behaviour.
New innovations include the harvesting of twitter data in the campaign, the use of interactive technologies to map the personal social contexts of respondents, and the use of an experimental methodology to enable comparison across the BES series.
The study will include:
• A high quality address-based random probability sample survey conducted via face-to-face s for maximum representativeness, geographic variation and long-run comparability.
• An inter-election internet panel across four annual waves, including preand post-general election waves and a Scottish referendum wave.
• A daily rolling thunder campaign study of voters, to allow analysis of shorter term campaign effects to provide important contextual information on the campaign.
• A ’Comparative Study of Electoral Systems’ module in the post-election survey to enable all-important international comparison.
The study will seek to maximise value for money through a program of data linkage and harmonisation with related studies and data collected for administrative purposes, developing an integrated data infrastructure for the study of elections in Britain.
The team are also partnering with the Electoral Commission and the Hansard Society to improve the public understanding of representation, engagement, and voter registration.