A third of us think 'woke' is an insult… but a quarter take it as a COMPLIMENT, new study shows 

A third of us think 'woke' is an insult… but a quarter take it as a COMPLIMENT, new study shows 

Term of endearment: A third of us think being branded ‘woke’ is an insult… but a quarter take it as a COMPLIMENT, new study shows

  • A new study by King’s College London found the country is increasingly divided
  • It found 36% of people believe ‘woke’ is an insult, while 26% say it’s a compliment
  • 50% of people polled said ‘white privilege’ is an unhelpful term for race relations
  • The study found more than half of people think there are ‘culture wars’ in the UK 

The UK is increasingly divided by culture wars – with division over the phrase ‘white privilege’ and the word ‘woke‘, a study has found.

Thirty-six per cent of the public believe ‘woke’ is an insult – compared with 26 per cent who think it is a compliment, according to the results.

The phrase ‘white privilege’ is seen as an unhelpful term for race relations by 51 per cent, while 23 per cent see it as helpful. 

It refers to the idea that white people benefit from structural racism and society’s unconscious biases. 

The study by King’s College London (pictured) found 54 per cent of people believe society is embroiled in a culture war

The study of 3,000 people found that 54 per cent believe society is embroiled in a culture war – up from 46 per cent in 2020.

The increase was the highest in the over-55s, from 44 per cent to 57 per cent across the two years.

The poll by King’s College London comes amid a growing row over whether universities, schools, museums and other public sector institutions should ‘go woke’. 

Many have been censoring facts and views that they claim will ‘offend’ minority groups, but critics say this is a violation of free speech and amounts to ‘cancel culture’. 

The phrase ‘cancel culture’ first appeared in UK newspapers in 2018, when there were only six articles that featured the phrase – but by 2021 there were 3,670 articles that referenced the term.

Two-thirds of the public – 65 per cent – now say they’ve heard a lot or a little about the term ‘being woke’, compared with 49 per cent in 2020.

Gideon Skinner, of Ipsos UK, which conducted the study, said: ‘The research suggests that certain groups – notably older people, and Conservative and Leave supporters – are moving from a position of not really knowing what ‘being woke’ means to now clearly seeing it pejoratively.’

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Eleanor Harding

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