British Social Attitudes: The 24th Report (British Social by Alison Park, John Curtice, Katarina Thomson, Miranda

By Alison Park, John Curtice, Katarina Thomson, Miranda Phillips, Mark C Johnson, Elizabeth Clery

The British Social Attitudes survey sequence is conducted by way of Britain's biggest self sustaining social study institute, the nationwide Centre for Social learn. It presents an critical advisor to present political and social matters in modern Britain. This, the twenty fourth record, describes the result of the latest nation-wide survey, together with research of the next parts: nationwide id; attitudes to 'new' forms of relations formations; attitudes to cohabitation and the rights of cohabitees; social welfare; and gender roles.

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The following questions were asked in separate places in the questionnaire: Homosexual relations are always wrong [Agree strongly – Disagree strongly] … what about sexual relations between two adults of the same sex? [Always/Mostly/Sometimes/Rarely wrong/Not wrong at all] The initial impression is of widespread tolerance. By 2006, only 18 per cent agree with the first question, taking the view that homosexual relationships are always wrong. On this measure, attitudes have become more liberal since 1996 (when 24 per cent agreed).

Now a third (32 per cent) of respondents see sex between adults of the same sex as always or mostly wrong – which must leave some respondents in a ‘Church of England’ position, where homosexuality is all right as long as sex is not involved. This inconsistency suggests a difference between tolerance – something not approved of can be tolerated – and acceptance – where there is no disapproval. However, the largest proportion (49 per cent) still think sex between same-sex adults is rarely or never wrong.

By far the main single reason for living apart, given by four in ten of those respondents with a partner living elsewhere, is that they are not ready to live together, or that it is too early in their relationship. This is not because these respondents are waiting to get married – a mere five per cent cite this as a reason for living apart (also underlining the normalcy of unmarried cohabitation discussed earlier). This gives a different impression of the status of these relationships than our more simplistic measure of length – we can perhaps see these as akin to the old-fashioned notion of ‘going steady’ boyfriend/girlfriend 16 BRITISH SOCIAL ATTITUDES relationships, rather than full-blown partnerships.

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