Ethnicity and the comparative analysis of contemporary survey data

English title: Ethnicity and the comparative analysis of contemporary survey data

Author(s): P.S. Lambert -

Language: English

Type: Conference paper/poster

Year: 2004


Concepts of minority ethnic group are important to very many social science analyses, yet developments in their sociological conceptualization generate serious problems for cross-national survey researchers. This occurs because as sociological discussions have expanded, ever more important qualitative differences between ethnic situations, in any particular country, have typically been propounded. In turn, the requirement of first mapping, then analyzing, ethnic differences in terms of 'comparable' variables in cross-national quantitative datasets, is clearly rendered problematic. This challenge is not, however, one which social researchers should shy away from : history suggests that (comparative) social policy analysis on ethnicity, using whatever survey data categories are available, will continue apace, regardless of sociologists' misgivings about the validity of the variable indicators available. This paper explores the possibilities for analysis of ethnicity-related data on a number of contemporary cross-national studies (including the ESS, ISSP, LIS, WVS)? The data considered ranges for instance across measures of religion, ethnic identity, nationality, country of origins and language spoken, and in the majority of cases, the data has been operationalized in different categorical forms for different national data sources. Two methodological strategies for comparative analysis are considered. The first position attempts to theorize a solution a priori, by developing a strong model of analytical 383 parsimony with regard to ethnicity differences that might be sensibly implemented on the large majority of relevant datasets. The second 'relativist' position examines the numerical indexing of different ethnicity categories within each country. Under this proposal, the index scores assigned to categories could simultaneously allow the incorporation of multiple ethnic differences in the analysis, along with a genuinely comparative evaluation of each ethnic location.

Conference name: Sixth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

Location: Amsterdam

Start date: Aug 16, 2004

Type: Paper

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