The United Kingdom Census

by | Amusement (↓) | Price (↑) | 0 comment | 1 question

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_Census_2011 for details

Further information at ons.gov.uk and search for Census

Where and how is it used?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_Census_2011 for details

Further information at ons.gov.uk and search for Census

What did you or someone else pay for it?

THe United Kingdom taxpayers paid for it

Why do you want to add it to the museum?

I believe it is an interesting example of a data commodity


How was it made?

Is made in a factory

Is farmed

Is mass-produced

Is produced by local cottage industry

Is made to particular specifications

Is craft / hand-made

Is foraged

Is found

Is colonised

Is a service


Materials & Making

Who made or produced your commodity?

the people of the United Kingdom

Who was paid to make it?

The United kingdom Taxpayers

What skills does it take to make it?

Hundreds of different skills

Where was it made?

in the United Kingdom but with help from other parts of the world

What does it cost to make it?

The total cost of the 2011 Census in England and Wales over the period from 2004/05 to 2015/16 is estimated to be £482 million. This is more than twice the £210m spent on the 2001 census. This breaks down to a cost of 87 pence per person, per year (over the life of the census – ten years).

What is it made from?

Buying & Owning

Who decides how much it costs?

The market for the suppliers of the components

Who or what assesses its quality?

External organisations and auditors

Where is it sold?

All over the world

Who or what sells it?

The united Kingdom Taxpayers via the Government of the Day and The Office For National Statistics

How did this thing arrive from where it was made to where you got it?

Regular national censuses have taken place nearly every ten years since 1801, most recently in 2011; other partial censuses have been made on some of the intervening fifth anniversaries. The first four censuses (1801–1831) were mainly statistical: that is, mainly headcounts, with virtually no personal information. A small number of older records exist in local record offices as by-products of the notes made by enumerators in the production of those earlier censuses; these might list all persons or just the heads of households. The 1841 Census was the first to intentionally record names of all individuals in a household or institution.

Where is it used?

In multiple places

Where is it kept?

At The Office For National Statistics

How and by whom is it cared for?

Staff atThe Office For National Statistics

How long will it last?

Forever

Where will it go when it's finished with?

It wont ever go away

What is it worth?

Nobody knows


How do you and others value this commodity?

See the values contributed by visitors and those of the donor. And add your own values to this commodity.

Total times valued1
Positive (↑)Price
Negative (↓)Amusement
Overall Positive90
Overall Negative-37
Controversy63.5 (0 = most controversial)
  

What do these numbers mean?

This data that we have collected over time in our database means nothing without interpretation. A relational database, which we are using here, is technology that enables designers of websites and software to compare, contrast, interrogate and infer relations within data. The act of designing a database is not objective but driven by the agency of its creators and owners.

Within the MoCC Collection data is used to help think through the relations between values, commodities and data. Can we describe our values using sliders and numbers? How do we infer meaning such as controversy from data?

Below is a brief explanation of the some calculations and how these help make decisions about what is shown on the site.

  • Controversy Score:
    (Total Positive Values) + (Total Negative Values)

    The closer the value is to zero the more controversial it is in relation to other commodities. Used to infer that values associated with one commodity divide opinion more than another.

  • Average Value Score (used in the sliders):
    (Total Positive for Value + Total Negative for Value) ÷ Total Times Valued

    Used to infer a collective value associated with a commodity.

How do you value this commodity?

To add your own values click VALUE THIS COMMODITY and move the sliders left and right to add your own values - then click SUBMIT
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Questions and answers

Help to reveal unknown quantities, properties and uses of this commodity by answering this MoCC curator's questions.

Question: How would you like the United Kingdom Census to exist in future years ?

Answers:

Wow! I’m not sure a question has ever made me think quite so much as this one. Thank-you!

I’m ashamed to admit that my knowledge of the census was, prior to such an educational commodity question, limited. I was 15 (I think!!) when the 2011 census was carried out and sadly, I think I was too busy playing outside or doing whatever a hideously uncool 15 year old does to have paid too much attention to it (*guilty gulp). But, researching your question has given me a quick education- genuine thanks!!

It appears the current state of the census is hotly contested- from concerns around data protection, to nosey-ness, to its capturing of information. Over the last 210 years, the census has gone from a simple headcount to a 32 page booklet containing questions which are, debatably, limited in their usefulness- like who’s staying on the night of the 27th March 2011. I’m sure, for some of the 40,000 government and non-government bodies who use census data, this kind of question is somehow useful, but it certainly makes me question just how much information needs to be shared.

According to an exhibition run by Ian Cooke (not the Ian Cook of Ian Cook et al- but the curator for political studies at the British Library), early opposition to the census revolved around “fears about governments using figures to direct labour and to find enemies”. But it’s really made me think about whether the information the census gathers today couldn’t be accused of doing something similar. As soon, for example, as Sainsbury’s finds out you like yogurt, you end up with a book of yogurt vouchers. Very useful nonetheless, but an example of how data could be used to direct thinking- particularly at a time when cyber attacks have been rife.

It’s also got me thinking about the changing data protection regulations to be introduced in 2018. We will now have to ‘opt in’ to receiving updates from charities or companies rather than having the little tick box at the bottom which is automatically ticked to ‘opt-in’ (i.e.- we’ll have to tick that box- a doubtlessly simplified explanation of a much more complex process!). But, if we now have to opt in to sharing our data with, say a charity we’ve supported for 10 years, should the government have regulations on what information we give and how we give it? What about the right to privacy?

I certainly do understand the need for a census- it provides invaluable information. Part of me thinks we should go back to a simplified head count, along with some questions on religion, or ethnicity, or disability- albeit ensuring these questions are open ended- only stuff we really need to know. For example; as the British Humanist Association suggested, changing “What is your religion” to “Do you have a religion? If so, what is it”. This would ensure a fairer representation when making government decisions about faith schools and so on. Do we really need to answer questions about who’s staying on the night of the 27th? And how helpful are subjective questions like “How is your health generally; very good, good, average, poor”- with no guide to what each category means, subjectivity and inaccuracy is rife. I also wonder how the census could be changed to include everyone. I know that specialised officers are sent out to collect data from individuals who are, for example, sleeping rough, but it’s unlikely it’s capturing, or best representing all. And what too about those seeking asylum, or illegal immigrant- if we are to get a clear picture of the UK’s population, should we be including these individuals without fear of persecution? Idealistic, controversial and impractical- certainly. But just something else that’s got me thinking.

So, I think I'd like to see a more basic, headcount based census. Completing it online, as is the aim for the 2021 census, would certainly cut down on costs (and, importantly, trees!)- though we do end up back in the sphere of cyber attacks as individuals complete questionnaires on devices of differing security.

Yet- some slightly nosey part of me would also be interested in including questions on current day things- like feelings around Brexit, or threats of nuclear war, or climate change. At the very least, it’d give the GCSE history students in 50 years time some ‘primary data’ to use when answering essay questions like “Evaluate the demise of the Western world in 2016-2025, giving at least two examples”…

Those in charge of creating the 2021 census and pleasing everyone- I salute you, an impossible task I’m certain!

by MoCCconsultantGabrielle on August 26th at 10:51am

Conversation

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