Could self-interest actually stop polarisation? Interview with Thomas Prosser

Could self-interest actually stop polarisation? Interview with Thomas Prosser

Catherine Neilan

04:18 12th March 2021

Acting selfishly would, on the surface, appear to be one of the reasons for increased division and polarisation in our society.

Certainly, the argument made by almost any political tribe tends to be that members of the opposing group are acting in their self-interest at the expense of others.

According to the labels that get thrown around, Leavers have voted for Brexit to get rid of immigrants, while Remainers preferred the status quo because they were winning from globalisation.

Likewise those who vote Conservative do so to line their pockets - or at least protect them - while Labour voters are those who look for more from the state.

And yet things are never that straightforward.

As we saw in 2019, there were plenty of Tory voters who come in the lower income brackets, not likely to have been unduly concerned by Jeremy Corbyn's plan to introduce a new tax threshold for those earning £80,000 and above.

Conversely, many of those who stuck with Labour came from the well-educated, higher earning, "metropolitan elite". Ardent Brexiters include people from areas with very low immigration rates, and the post-Brexit vision of Britain is built on being more global in thinking than it was as part of the EU.

Perhaps we aren't actually voting selfishly enough.

In this week's episode of Making Common Ground, Cardiff University academic Thomas Prosser analyses the worldviews that define us and why self-interest can actually help us understand the other perspective in a different light.

Listen to the interview in full below.

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Tags: Polarisation Brexit Jeremy Corbyn Boris Johnson Democracy