The idea for it was conceived several years ago, following the high-profile, political disruption of 2016, and spurred by a personal concern of mine: namely that while populism and the future of globalisation had suddenly become major political stories, there was also a tendency to rush to judgement about the nature and causes of public opinion and to reduce complex sentiments to partisan caricatures such as ‘authoritarian populism’, ‘open versus closed’, and ‘white lash against modernity’.
So an important aim for us in this project was to develop a study that could test the limits of these kinds of generalisation. We also had a second objective, which was to go beyond the kind of single-issue or stand-alone polling that tends to be commonplace on these subjects, and to produce a more multidimensional survey that could correlate different attitudes and experiences, and include views of economic integration and politics, as well as culture and travel, social values and consumer habits.
The initial findings published by The Guardian speak for themselves in terms of their richness and originality.
We've seen research suggesting the globalisation backlash has been oversold, and that even hardened opponents of immigration hold different views of globalisation and other related issues, rather than perpetuating neat ideological differences.
We’ve seen newly revealing portraits of the surprising overlap of views between Leave and Remain tribes, the happiness gulf between France and Germany, and the immense scale of anti-establishment sentiment in Brazil and South Africa.
We've seen analysis that outlines a cohort of 'defined populists', who tend to separate society into two antagonistic groups of “the pure people” versus “the corrupt elite”, and differ from national opinion trends in significant ways, including in their marked susceptibility to conspiracy theories.
On the more cultural and consumer focused aspects, we’ve also learned that, if in doubt about what to feed people, then go Italian, which is universally beloved, and that China might be sizing up as our largest economy but ‘made in China’ is still a label that lacks credibility with many consumers around the world.
The scale of this project, however, also means that we have only just begun to mine its academic depth. Over the coming year, the Bennett Institute and YouGov will be using it variously to produce a range of new analysis on subjects including the relationship between places and populist attitudes, the segmentation of publics in terms of their globalist and/or nativist proclivities, and the international map of anti-Western sentiment.
For updates, see our new landing page for the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project.
Joel is the academic director at YouGov.
About the author
Dr Joel Rogers de Waal, Affiliated Researcher
Joel is an academic pollster and affiliated researcher at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, where his work is focused on populism and globalisation. He is also the academic director at YouGov and polling director at the YouGov-Cambridge Centre, within the Cambridge POLIS Department. Learn more