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New consortium to undertake the next British Election Study of 2015

The ESRC is pleased to announce that the next British Election Study will be hosted by a consortium comprised of the Universities of Manchester, Oxford and Nottingham.

The British Election Study has been conducted at every General Election since 1964, and is designed to help our understanding of long-term trends in British voting behaviour. The study looks at why people vote, and why they vote the way they do. Previous studies have received high public and academic recognition and have made a major contribution to the understanding of political attitudes and behaviour over 50 years.

The scientific leadership team for the 2015 Study will be Professor Ed Fieldhouse, Dr Jane Green, Professor Hermann Schmitt (all Manchester), Professor Geoff Evans (Oxford, Nuffield) and Professor Cees van der Eijk (Nottingham).

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 concerns about representation and accountability, growing disengagement with mainstream political choices, and the impact of economic hardships and austerity upon political attitudes and participation.

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."

The new study will make use of data from social media and interactive technologies. For example, 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 British Election Study series.

Professor Fieldhouse said: "The British Election Study is one of the longest running election studies worldwide 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."

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."