Political Spectrum Census 2014

Written by Veronica Santistevan

Edited by Wendi Corbin

As Becca Mason explained in the last BRC Census blog post (found here), the majority of Burning Man attendees orient themselves toward the left of the political spectrum.
The 2014 Census used a scale from zero to eight for respondents to select their political alignment.  The three left-most selections combined to about two-third of total answers!  This left the three center groups to take just under one-third and finally, the right-most options brought home the total with about 5%.


Reflecting on the 10 Principles of Burning Man, some liberal ideas have become BM Principles but as the data shows, Tories and members of the GOP are definitely not averted to the experience.  (For those of us that need occasional and friendly reminders of the principles– Radical Inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification, Radical Self-reliance, Radical Self-expression, Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility, Leaving No Trace, Participation, Immediacy.)  While some of the principles don’t have much of a left or right quality about them, like civic responsibility, others have some lean to the left.  Radical Self-expression, for one, wasn’t something the nuns in private school educated my classmates and me about, nor will you find today’s televised Conservative espousing the importance of decommodification.

These left, center, and right boundaries are not definitive though and depending on specific issues, Burners answers to the question become fluid.  One way we separated these instances was by asking Burners where they felt they fell on the left to right spectrum (again on a scale from zero to eight), but specified either socially, economically, or environmentally.  Again, the general trend for all three categories lessened with each step to the right.  Interestingly, the economic scale stood out with the only three most right groups rising above 10%, leaving the left groups at 59% and center groups holding 28% of the population.  Social and environmental left versus right identification did not vary much; the left groups of each held over three-fourths of the sum, had center responses in the teens, and left identifications fell in around 5%. As mentioned before, some of the aspects of Burning Man are left-leaning.
Particularly, these are the social (Gifting) and environmental (Leave No Trace).



2 responses

    • Hi Corvus and thanks for the feedback. We used a single left/right question in a previous Census. For 2014 however, we decided to explore political opinions a bit more by allowing more complex opinions based, in part, on the Nolan chart and on population surveys. That’s why the left/right question was asked separately about 3 separate topics: social/personal issues, economic issues and environmental issues. For example, according to Nolan, libertarians tend to express left wing positions about social issues (e.g., importance of personal freedom) and right wing positions about economic issues (e.g., avoiding governmental interference with the free market). No political model is perfect, but we thought that these additional questions could allow burners to express more precisely their political opinion.
      Dominic Beaulieu-Prévost aka Hunter
      Research collaborator at the Census

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