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Friday 17th July, 09:00 - 10:30 Room: O-101

Comparability in International Comparative Research

Convenor Dr Katarzyna M. Staszynska (Kozminski University )

Session Details

The session would be devoted to the problems of comparability of data gathered in international comparative research. The limitations of comparability might be of various origin:

Linguistic. The rules of conducting international comparative research require detail translation of the research questionnaires into native languages of participant countries. The problem of lacking the translation that takes into account cultural differences between countries/ethnic groups (various understandings of terms, for instance: “democracy” is differently understood in Western societies where it has a positive meaning while in some Eastern societies might easily be associated with social disorder; “happiness” in some societies might be understood as individual material well being, good family life and love while in others - relationship of an individual with God, successful meditation and self-acceptance);
Related to social structure and stratification. The rules of social behaviors are strongly attached to social position of an individual. On some social positions particular behaviors might be considered inappropriate. During an interview people on some social positions might easily hide their own attitudes and opinions because in a particular culture they are not expected to present their own, individual points of view but rather a point of view of a strata they belong to.
Gender related. In some societies/ethnic groups women cannot be interviewed by male interviewers and men should rather not be interviewed by female interviewers. Since the interviewer effect is well recognized, the fact that male and female interviewers interview respondents of the same gender might be a reason of biased data.

Not all of the barriers for comparability of data gathered in international comparative research have been listed in here. We are open to hear the experiences of researchers running survey research in various societies and cultures.

Paper Details

1. Cross-cultural transferability of concepts: issues, problems, strategies
Dr Michael Ochsner (FORS)
Dr Michèle Ernst Staehli (FORS)
Ms Karin Nisple (FORS)

This presentation provides approaches to detect and analyse difficulties when culturally transferring concepts across and within countries. Based on the examples of the concepts of “ethnic group” membership and “Secondo” (second generation immigrants), we will discuss strategies to cope with issues of “cultural equivalence” during the questionnaire design phase going beyond translation, in order to ensure cross-cultural content validity. We use data from pilots and cognitive tests for the MOSAiCH survey, which includes the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), fielded in Switzerland.

2. Is the Concept of Attitudes Towards the Welfare State Fitted for Measurement in both Europe and Non-European Countries? Evidences from the Development of International Surveys in Venezuela
Mr Roberto Briceno-rosas (GESIS)

The concept of welfare has been developed manly thinking about European society and culture. This poses the question about the construct of welfare state fitting in other cultures different to the European. The goal of the paper is contribute to answer this question by using the evidence on the development of international surveys conducted in Venezuela. Cognitive interviewing, pretesting of questions contained in the ISSP module on the role of government and data analysis are apply to draw the conclusions.

3. Consistency factors in the approach to the sample design in international face to face surveys
Dr Hayk Gyuzalyan (TNS Opinion)

The obvious complexity of undertaking international survey projects is often not being able to separate clearly the substantial differences between responses in different countries from all country-specific design and implementation factors which may have affected the demonstrated inter-country difference. The sampling design, implementation and fieldwork procedures have the capacity to leave a large impact on the substance and interpretation of data. The conclusions will help focus on key factors in estimating the extent of comparability of survey designs, and ignore insignificant ones.

4. Interviewer Gender in Face-to-Face Surveys: A Cross-Cultural Analysis
Dr Steve Schwarzer (Pew Research Center)
Dr James Bell (Pew Research Center)
Dr Jill Carle (Pew Research Center)

In face-to-face attitudinal interviews, results can be influenced by a number of confounding factors, including interviewer effects. Demographic characteristics, such as the interviewer’s gender, ethnic or racial background, and education level may lead respondents to provide answers that follow social stereotypes or try to reduce the social distance between the respondent and interviewer. Using Pew Research Center’s 2014 cross-national surveys of general populations across a wide range of countries, we will assess the impact of interviewer characteristics and other confounding factors on responses to substantive questions on politics, social attitudes, and religion.