City, University of London building

Global Links workshop

The European Social Survey (ESS) held a workshop to strengthen its global links with the world’s leading cross-national and cross-cultural surveys at ESS HQ based at City, University of London on 12-13 September.

The event was attended by representatives from Pew Global Attitudes and Trends and the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP).

Continental or regional surveys were represented by the East Asian Social Survey, Afro Barometer, Arab Barometer, Asian Barometer and Latino Barometer.

Other than the ESS, European surveys involved included the European Values Study, Generations and Gender Programme and Eurofound, who run three employment surveys.

Also in attendance were national cross-cultural surveys including the General Social Survey (United States), Australian Social Attitudes and South African Social Attitudes Survey.

The workshop was also attended by the ESS ERIC director and three deputy directors of the ESS who chaired the event together with Beth-Ellen Pennell, Director of International Survey Operations at the University of Michigan Survey Research Center.

Plans for future cooperation were discussed throughout the workshop as delegates explained how their surveys are operated, what methodologies are used, past collaborative projects, the challenges they face and opportunities for future collaboration.

Richard Wike of Pew Research described his institute as a ‘fact tank’ rather than a ‘think tank’ and explained how their global attitudes project is widely disseminated outside of academia.

Oshrat Hochman of GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences discussed how the ISSP is operated. Delegates suggested it could benefit from future African collaboration that would expand their coverage (GESIS are the current secretariat for the ISSP).

Arab Barometer’s Michael Robbins explained how they field limited political questions as political parties in the region do not play as much of a role as they do in Europe, for example.

Collaborative work in future could assess attitudes in Arab countries where emigration is high and European countries with large levels of migration from the region.

Jibum Kim introduced East Asian Social Survey - conducted every two years simultaneously in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan and funded by national governments.

The Asian Barometer representative, Min-Hua Hang, explained how their survey is conducted in 21 Asian countries (only three countries do not take part), therefore measuring attitudes in countries that account for half the world’s population.

Marta Lagos told how Latino Barometer measures attitudes in 18 countries, explaining the complexities of translation in some regions and was supportive of future collaborative working.

Afro Barometer’s Robert Mattes outlined how 36 countries took part in their latest survey round (2014/15) and highlighted the importance of disseminating their findings to the public.

Tom Smith explained that the General Social Survey was first fielded in the United States in 1972 and that their questionnaire has been fielded in Spanish as well as English since 2006.

Nicholas Biddle of the Australian Social Attitudes explained that, due to compulsory voting in Australian electoral law, the Australian electoral roll is their sampling frame.

The South African Social Attitudes Survey’s Ben Roberts discussed how their survey is translated into 11 official languages as well as their previous collaborations with the ESS.

Ruud Luijkx of the European Values Study (EVS) explained that their survey is undertaken every nine years - its latest iteration is currently in the field.

Deidre Casella from the Generations and Gender Programme (GGP) explained how their survey concentrates on demographics in European Union and non-member states.

The EVS and GGP are currently working with the ESS and other partners involved in the Horizon 2020 Synergies for Europe's Research Infrastructures in the Social Sciences (SERISS) project. Sarah Butt of the ESS presented some of the SERISS project’s work on translation, developing tools and online panels.

Funded by the European Union, Eurofound was established in 1975 to undertake surveys in the employment sector. Daphne Nathalie Ahrendt explained that they undertake three surveys: European Company Survey, European Quality of Life Survey and European Working Conditions Survey.

The final session of the workshop established areas where future collaboration might be possible, and how this could provide interesting academic analysis and enhance the way surveys are undertaken, both individually and collectively.

The findings from this workshop will feed into the strategy for increasing international links for the ESS in the future as well as encouraging greater cooperation more generally in the field.

Professor Rory Fitzgerald, Director of the ESS said: “This workshop was a rare gathering of PIs and others researchers from leading cross-national and cross-cultural studies. The workshop highlighted similarities as well as the challenges of making comparisons across increasingly diverse cultural differences.

"The findings from this workshop will feed into the strategy for increasing international links for the ESS in the future as well as encouraging greater cooperation more generally in the field.”

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