Citizenship information needs in the UK: results of a national survey of the general public by personal doorstep interview.
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This paper reports the results of the second stage of the Citizenship Information research project funded by the BLR&IC: a national survey, by personal doorstep interview, of the citizenship information needs of 898 members of the UK public. Major findings include: that the public obtain most of their information on current issues via the media, and that they generally feel well informed on these issues. The public believe, however, that government is not doing enough to inform them about the Single European Currency and local council cutbacks. Small proportions of the sample had encountered problems in relation to employment, education, housing or welfare benefits and had consulted a range of information sources in order to solve these problems. Over a quarter of respondents had experienced disadvantage through a lack of access to information. Significant proportions of respondents were poorly informed about legal rights, welfare benefits and local politics. A highly significant majority (91.7%) believed that freedom of information was important for exercising their rights as citizens. Although access to computers in the home is presently limited, the majority of respondents indicated a willingness to use computers to vote and interact with government. Public libraries were the preferred source of government information and were seen as appropriate locations for a range of other types of citizenship information.