My top 14 social problems facing Britain in 2020:
- Pollution and the environment
- Inequality, low pay and poverty
- Inflation/ cost of living/ especially housing
- unemployment and underemployment
- Race relations
- The Ageing population
- Crime, law and order
- Mental health – depression/ anxiety (/suicide)
- Sexual inequalities
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Lack of faith (trust) in government
- Immigration/ overpopulation
This is a ‘first thoughts’ off the top of my head ranking based on a combination of what I know about these social issues and social theory/ research evidence.
Also, this isn’t comprehensive – I’ve taken the above from the Ipsos-Mori September 2019 survey – so really this is my ‘top 14’ social issues as identified by 1027 members of the British public in 2019.
This is what the British public thought were the most important social issues in September 2019….
Actually not quite, I’ve added in mental health and sexual inequalities just because I think they deserve a mention, unlike at least 95.5% of the British population sampled last September!
A broadly Marxist Rationale for my Ranking
I’ve put pollution and the environment at number 1 as if we don’t stop living within planetary limits soon we’re just lining up more social problems in the future – the more we consume and pollute the fewer resources there are to go round and the fewer resources the more inequality, the higher the cost of living, the more social unrest and so on.
Inequality comes second following Wilkinson and Picket’s work in the Spirit Level – inequality seems to be the number one variable correlated with all other social problems. I’ve included poverty with inequality as (simplifying to the extreme) in Britain we only really have relative poverty, which is a function of inequality.
At three is the ultimate economic challenge – keeping the cost of living down. I think this is fundamentally related to inequality – for example landlords owning several houses and renting them out make themselves rich while impoverishing their tenants.
I’ve included unemployment and underemployment at four as these is these are not only fundamentally linked to inequality, but also a future challenge as technological change strips out jobs from the economy.
Race relations goes in at five because Racism does still exist and it is the most common tool for scapegoating the causes of all other social problems. If we can just get rid of silly notions of Racism, the masses might direct their attention at the elites who create most of our social problems.
The ageing population is next as it’s something of a ticking time bomb – we haven’t yet addressed as a society how we are going to pay for the increased health and social care costs of people in old age in the context of a less favourable dependency ratio in future years.
To skip to the final two, I regard these as positive things – lack of faith in national politics I think is a necessary precursor to more decentralized, autonomous solutions to social problems and as to immigration and migration more generally, not only can this solve the ‘problem’ of the ageing population, I think in general we need more of it – if nothing else to combat the problem of racial prejudice!