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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Perceptions and conceptions of political misconduct: The British public and their attitudes towards political ethics

This research project explores popular understandings of political ethics in Britain. Politicians in Britain, as elsewhere, have acquired a reputation for being self-serving and untrustworthy. Yet we still know little about the actual standards of conduct against which members of the British public assess politicians' behaviour. We also know surprisingly little about the value members of the public attach to actual standards of conduct.

This research employs a multi-wave representative survey of the British public to address these questions. The principal hypotheses that guide the research are that ethical reasoning is structured along three principal dimensions: legal, normative and distributive, and that ethical evaluations are shaped by socio-demographic attributes as well as by British cultural traditions.

For those seeking to understand the public mood, whether academic researchers, public bodies who undertake public-engagement campaigns or politicians themselves, this research will make a substantial contribution to shedding light on the crucial question of what drives citizens' expectations and evaluations of politicians' conduct.