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Motherhood in Western Europe

Insights from Western European Mothers

The changing face of motherhood — Western Europe

The accompanying reports combine a review of existing literature with an analysis of original quantitative data derived from a poll of 9,582 mothers from 12 countries in Western Europe, making it one of the largest studies of this kind ever conducted

Child Obesity and Health

An analysis of the latest available data from the Health Survey for England (HSE)

Child Obesity and Health — download the full report in pdf format

In this ‘National Childhood Obesity Week’, the SIRC report, Children, obesity and heath: Recent trends, holds up a true mirror, accurately reflecting the trend towards slimmer, healthier children. more

The Future of Freemasonry

An examination of the role of Freemasonry in the 21st century


This report is, as far as we know, an account of the first ever study that has been commissioned by Freemasons from a non-Masonic body. None of the SIRC members involved in the project are Freemasons, a fact that evoked surprise and welcome in equal measure from the Lodge members we met. more

The Changing Face of Motherhood

Insights from three generations of mothers


The report seeks to answer some specific questions about the changing face of motherhood and determine the extent to which modern ‘solutions’ to motherhood are more or less beneficial than the solutions of the past. more


Research commissioned by The Automobile Association

Summary and highlights

This report focuses on the theme of 'belonging' in 21st century Britain. The notion of belonging, or social identity, is a central aspect of how we define who we are. We consider ourselves to be individuals but it is our membership of particular groups that is most important in constructing a sense of identity. Social identity is a fundamental aspect of what it is to be human.

In Britain today there is public debate suggesting that we are losing this essential sense of belonging — that globalization, for example, far from bringing people closer together, is actually moving us apart. We hear that our neighbourhoods are becoming evermore impersonal and anonymous and that we no longer have a sense of place. But is this really the case? Are we losing our sense of belonging, or are we simply finding new ways to locate ourselves in a changing society? This report seeks an answer.

On one level, belonging is certainly changing. While in the past a sense of belonging was more rigidly defined in terms of the traditional markers of social identity such as class or religion, people are now far more able to choose the categories to which they belong. We are now able to select from a wide range of groups, communities, brands and lifestyles those with which we wish to align ourselves and which, in turn, shape our social identities. At the same time we may, or may not, remain rooted in our families or in the place in which we were born. The 'landscape' of belonging may have changed — with much greater opportunity these days to opt in and opt out of various groups — but we still want the same things from membership of these groups. We have timeless needs for social bonding, loyalty, security and acceptance. These have been with us since the Stone Age and throughout our history we have created social networks and groupings to serve these ends. So what does this landscape look like today? Is it that much different from that of the past?

To explore this fundamental aspect of human life the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) has employed a number of research methods. First, a detailed literature review provided the background for two in-depth focus groups with 8-10 people in each, representing a broad cross-section of demographic groups. The material from these groups was subsequently used to design national poll questions that were distributed by YouGov to 2,209 nationally representative participants across the country.

Through these methods, SIRC's research has identified six key social identities in which people most frequently anchor their sense of belonging today:

The kinds of social changes that have taken place in recent years are evidenced by the fact that these categories rank higher than other more traditional foci of belonging, such as class, religion, or place of origin. Only 13% of people, for example, feel a sense of belonging to the community in which they were born. The main body of this report looks at where these changes have taken place and explores how we are incorporating both new and more traditional notions of belonging into our patterns of social interaction.

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