Our PI, Professor Ben Ansell, started the week today by appearing on BBC Radio 4's Start The Week, hosted by Andrew Marr. This week's episode - entitled 'A house and a home' - also featured the architect David Mikhail, the writer Jude Yawson, and the historian Christina Hardyment.
Ben told listeners how house prices used to be a perfect predictor of voting patterns (in the 1980s, “if you walked past an estate agent you could tell how a constituency would vote”) but that Brexit has changed all that. This is because housing is a proxy for how communities feel valued – "literally how much people are willing to pay to live there" - and whether they feel they've benefited from membership of the EU, which in turn affected voter preference in the 2016 Referendum.
These ideas are exactly what the three Work Packages of the WEALTHPOL project are looking into. As wealth inequalities rise to levels unseen since the ‘Gilded Age’ of the early twentieth century, it is crucial for social scientists to understand not only the magnitude of this change but how it is connected to underlying political struggles and how it shapes the social and political debates of the future. By connecting data on wealth inequality and mobility (including housing prices and attitudes towards ownership and related taxes) to the political and policy space around wealth, and then to citizens’ attitudes to wealth, WEALTHPOL advances far beyond the important work of Piketty, bringing politics and individual behaviour into the study of wealth for the first time.
Listen to the episode on the BBC Sounds site here.