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Cross-national multi-purpose survey data as a resource for political research

Coordinator 1Dr Riccardo Ladini (University of Milan)
Coordinator 2Miss Jessica Rosco (University of Milan)
Coordinator 3Professor Cristiano Vezzoni (University of Milan)

Session Details

The panel invites papers that illustrate the potential of large cross-national multi-purpose surveys not specifically focused on political issues to study electoral and political behaviour and politics at large, both focusing on specific countries or comparative approaches.
Some examples of multi-purpose survey programs are: ESS, EVS/WVS, ISSP, and various continental barometers.
Nowadays, social research broadly relies on data coming from these surveys, which are increasingly recognised as the infrastructure of the social sciences. Their success rests on the high quality of data, cross-national coverage, longitudinal depth, complete documentation and, last but not the least, availability.
Despite their merits and popularity, cross-national survey data are still under-used to study political attitudes and behaviour. Possibly political scientists’ cold feet toward cross-national surveys comes from their inherently multi-purpose nature, with a limited number of questions explicitly referring to political orientation and behaviour. To complicate the situation, each round of a survey happens at once in several countries, crosscutting each national electoral cycle at a different point.
A closer look, however, suggests that cross-national survey data can offer great opportunities also for the study of politics. Practically each survey programme includes basic political questions (previous vote, party identity, self-placement on the left-right scale) together with an abundant set of questions referring to value orientation and socio-political attitudes. In addition, the synchronic data collection in several countries and repetition across time give a vantage point to study cross-cultural equivalence of measures and contextual effects, by means of multi-groups and multilevel designs.
Thus, the aim of the panel is to collect contributions that present original and creative ways for political researchers to exploit cross-national survey data, enhancing their use by proposing solutions to the methodological and conceptual problems encountered while