Updated: Jan 3
Written by: Evan Goodfellow
In a recent article by Zack Beauchamp entitled, Brexit was fuelled by irrational xenophobia, not real economic grievances, the author looks at the impact xenophobia had on Brexit. In the past, market research online communities have been mainly used by large companies to connect with their customers or potential customers. Emotions can have a huge impact on purchasing habits and companies know that emotions drive sales. A big challenge large companies face is that while they know emotions are important in the lives of their customers and in sales, they don’t know how to identify the specific emotions, or engage them and link them to results. This is also true in politics. Emotions play a key role in voter decision, you can look at Brexit as being a case in point to this fact.
Governments, and cities are looking to market research online communities as a way to keep members engaged in what is happening on a local level. By allowing individuals to weigh in on both small and large decisions that affect them, through qualitative and quantitative online research methods gives community members a sense of importance, and a feeling that their voice is being heard. When the community votes on a specific issue the information on the decision can be fed back to the participants to see how the vote was broken down giving a clearer understanding.
Brexit Built Upon the People’s Fear
The pro-Leave group’s claimed that Britain needed to leave the EU because the immigration problem had become to much to handle. The argument was that the influx of migrants was creating an unacceptable economic cost on British citizens and that it needed to stop. The problem as Beauchamp writes, is that this fear was not based on reality. The real problem came from suffering high levels of xenophobia, and bias based on individual nationality.
Beauchamp explains how immigration has grown over recent years due in large part to joining the EU which allowed citizens within the EU to live and work in whichever EU country they choose. This influx of workers was said to cause stresses to schools, hospitals, and housing. However, this sentiment has been around in Britain even before there was a noticeable migration surge. The author cites, a chart, “from University of Oxford’s Scott Blinder. Blinder put together historical data on one polling question — the percent of Brits saying there were too many immigrants in their country. It turns out people believed this for decades before mass migration even began:”
Identifying the Emotions of Your Constituents
If the belief were true that immigrants were creating job losses, and creating hostility then the chart would show hostility grow as immigration grew but it didn’t. That sentiment has been at the same levels regardless of actual immigration levels. So what good is this information? If countries, and cities can identify the emotions behind their constituents whether real or imaginary then proper educational efforts can take place to dispel myth with reality.
Knowing what emotions are affecting your constituents is crucial to understanding voter decisions. We also believe that online research community software can help voters engage and begin to feel ownership in the policies that are created. Then when a decision is made within the community, they can rest assured that it was the decision of the group and not of a certain party or a powerful few.
If you would like to find out more about how market research online communities can help you, please feel free to contact us.