This week has been a busy one and I have progressed quite a bit in my project since my last (and incidentally first) update.
First, my aims that I set in the previous update:
Finding some polling information for NI: I found that there was minimal polling for NI on anything, let alone on confidence in the Executive throughout Covid. Most information that did exist was about the Unionist/Nationalist split in the country. Therefore, I have decided to exclude NI from my research. Whilst this is an unfortunate loss because of the fascinating political situation in NI, I think it is something which is reasonable. This is for a number of reasons, first of all the lack of polling information means that it cannot comfortably be included in the study and provide accurate and comparable data. Secondly, it is unlikely that the pandemic has caused a large shift in Unionist and Nationalist opinions. This is because of the historical split in political opinion which is far too complex to be affected by a single historical event, no matter how significant. Therefore, whilst I would have liked to analyse Northern Ireland as a part of this project, I don't believe that the conclusions on the impact of the pandemic on Unionism will be affected.
Choosing a policy area to look into: On further analysis of the data set which I found on day one, I found that there were two time periods which were significant. The first was 9-15 June 2020 and the second was August 2020 (varying weeks for Scotland and England and Wales). When I corresponded these dates with policies announced/implemented, I found that the June dates corresponded with an introduction of face masks and the August dates corresponded with exam results being released and the subsequent U-turn. When researching these policy areas further, I found that they were the ideal policy areas for this project because they occurred at flashpoints and were similar across all three nations.
After I had come to these decisions it was important to figure out what to do next, and therefore I had a discussion with my supervisor and we came up with a plan for this week, and streamlined what I was planning to do with the project.
We discussed what the project would look like and how I would use the polling data to find an area in which public confidence in government changed, and then I would use information to understand why those changes had occurred. I knew which areas I wanted to look into, but I was unsure about how to conduct these tests. In order to create these tests, I decided that I needed to do some reading across the subject to understand what previous academics had done. I am about halfway through that now, and will write another update at the end of the week when I have a clearer understanding.
Alongside this reading, I am starting to write up the decisions that I have made earlier so that I can have a break from reading. It is also very useful to be able to write these decisions out so that I can have a very clear head going into the next stage, which I hope to start next week.
My plan for the rest of the week is to keep reading and to write up my thoughts so far. I want to have a clear head and a clear plan going into next week so that I can get started on the next stage, which will be the biggest and longest stage of the project.