A microeconomic investigation into the themes of social participation, social exclusion and collective action affecting individuals, households, state and society
: evidence from a modern British city

  • Sabrina Bunyan

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The UK Government encourages citizens to help themselves through policy
    initiatives such as the ‘Big Society’. This study provides an empirical snapshot of
    different aspects of modern society that contributes to existing literature on social participation, social exclusion and collective action. This study uses novel interview survey data from a representative sample of 1,005 households in the UK coastal city of Portsmouth.

    Particular aspects of society that this study investigates includes; understanding the determinants of social engagement; through citizen’s willingness to volunteer and the intensity of their voluntary efforts. In this study, willingness to volunteer includes giving unpaid help to groups, clubs or organisations, or voluntarily participating in local decision-making groups, for example, a group making decisions on crime in the city.

    To contrast civic engagement, this study addresses issues of social exclusion with a focus on digital exclusion and financial exclusion. In this study, digital exclusion refers to those individuals who do not use the internet either at home, work, place of study or elsewhere. Indicators of household financial exclusion include credit refusal or the use of ‘doorstep lenders’ while indicators of financial self-exclusion include the absence of a savings account or home contents insurance.

    Additionally, this study examines the determinants of citizens’ concerns and
    perceptions of helplessness in face of the societal threat posed by climate change and flooding in Portsmouth, a city at risk of inundation from rising sea levels and the city has recent experience of flooding. A simple local and global public good framework is used to organise the understanding of reported attitudes and their determinants. As such, this high resolution data from one UK city provides an indication of the nature of society in modern Britain.

    Multivariate statistical analysis is used in identifying the attributes of individuals
    who are willing or actively involved in society, who are concerned or express
    perceptions of helplessness in the face of environmental threats, and also draws on the attributes of those who experience exclusion from society for whatever reason. The City of Portsmouth context provides a unique backdrop to understanding each of these issues. The main findings from the study shows that some of the most vulnerable people in society are less likely to choose to participate in local community activities, but rather they are more likely to experience social exclusion. Indeed, even within the confines of a densely populated city such as Portsmouth, locality matters, even after controlling for a range of socio-economic and demographic variables.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorAlan Collins (Supervisor) & Judith Rich (Supervisor)

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