By Jack Popeley
Yesterday, we published the first of our three part series ‘Feeling the Pulse of the Nation’ with Caitriona Murphy writing about the effects of the recession on the economy, age and social class. Today, Jack Popeley will be discussing the Amárach findings and how they relate to social activism and the seasons.
The Amárach data set showed a clear link between negative sentiments towards the economy and major national protests. This can be seen time and again in the data, illustrated in the graph below.
Here we see the Economic Recovery Index (ERI) graph, with the black dots highlighting major protests and strikes that have occurred over the past 7 years.
When people in Ireland come out to protest, they generally feel less confident in their economic situation. During the Anti-Austerity marches in November 2009, where thousands marched in eight locations across Ireland, we saw a rise of 4% in people who thought the economic situation was getting worse and a drop of 7% in people who thought the recession would be over in 12 months.
There is also an emotional response to these events. Enjoyment went down by 11% and stress and anxiety were up by 9%. People who stated they were worried also increased by 8%.
Similarly in April 2013, the month of a huge water charges protest we saw a rise of 5% in people saying the economic situation was getting worse. There was also a drop of 5% of people who said the economic situation is bad but showing signs of improvement. Another 5% drop was seen in those who felt they were financially comfortable enough to make it through the recession. The Economic Recovery Index as a whole dropped almost 4 points from 24.0 to 20.3 with stress and worry going up, and with enjoyment and happiness falling again.
Looking at these events in greater detail shows that when people appear to be most disillusioned with the economy, they do come out and protest. Furthermore, the political and economic situation at any certain time has quite the effect on people’s thoughts and emotions.
Here, people’s happiness and sadness as recorded by Amárach are put on a graph, highlighting the summer and winter seasons.
It can also be seen that when people are feeling certain emotions, their faith in and general sentiments towards the economy change. Here, a general correlation between the seasons and people’s emotions can be seen. Happiness tends to be higher in the summer months and decreases when winter rolls around. However, the link is not always apparent because it is often not as clear cut as the others. This is because the political and socio-economic situation at the time affects people’s emotions much more significantly. For example, although people are generally sadder in the winter months, around Christmas people get happier and this in turn skews the data.
Come back tomorrow to catch ‘Feeling the Pulse of the Nation’ Part 3