ESRA 2019 Programme at a Glance

Aspects of Research on People Rooted in Arabic Cultures

Session Organisers Dr Roman Auriga (Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi))
Dr Gisela Will (Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi))
Dr Chritoph Homuth (Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi))
TimeWednesday 17th July, 11:00 - 12:30
Room D30

Many societies nowadays face increasing diversity, which stems among other factors from refugees’ and work migration movements. As many of the current refugee groups are rooted in Arabic countries, the need of an understanding of Arabic minority communities as a result of their increasing amount and influence becomes crucial in many receiving countries. This is not only true on a political and societal, but also on a scientific level. Due to the lack of corresponding experience (in large-scale studies) in social sciences in many Western countries, where people from Arabic cultures just recently arrived, such research entails specific challenges for many researchers. However, there exist quite long traditions of research on people rooted in or descending from Arabic cultures in other disciplines or other countries. This is often linked to different minority groups in these countries and is mainly based on the colonial histories of these countries. We are also very interested in the experiences of, or input from, researchers who have already conducted empirical studies in Arabic regions and who have considered or used (or tried to use) standard instruments or scales that are commonly used in Western (large scale) surveys.

In this session we want to bring together these groups of researchers and we are going to focus on methodological aspects such as: (lack of) respondents’ experience in participation in studies, voluntariness of participation, cultural biased responses and response variation, social desirability, problems with the point of reference of answers (abstract vs. personally linked answering), problems of validity linked to interview’s and respondent’s language, dealing with different Arabic dialects and non-written languages like Kurdish, cultural adequacy of research instruments, validity and reliability of constructs, researching of religion and religiosity, nonverbal communication and code of behaviour, formative influence of researchers on research questions due to the culture (e.g. eurocentrism).

We are interested in presentations of experiences and lessons learned as well as new approaches or emerging methods focusing especially on research on people from Arabic cultures.

Keywords: cross-cultural surveys, Arabic culture, survey practice

Conducting Online Panel Surveys in Arabic and Western Countries: Comparing Survey Quality Indicators

Dr Andre Pirralha (RECSM - Universitat Pompeu Fabra) - Presenting Author
Dr Moussa Bourekba (CIDOB)
Dr Diego Muro (University of St Andrews)

Web surveys are taking an increasingly important role in the study of public opinion. However, this newer data collection mode presents specific characteristics which differ from more traditional modes. Just to name a few, web surveys are usually computer-assisted and self-administered and the stimuli are usually visual. These features have made online panels arguably a more suitable setting to deal with socially sensitive questions. Another important distinction within online panel surveys is regarding the sampling procedure and the distinction between probability-based panels and opt-in or access panels. Within these, opt-in online panels are increasingly common in Western countries and contributed to a rising body of research discussing the specific methodological features of online panels. This, however, has been much less the case of other regions of world and particularly for Arabic countries.
This paper discusses the methodological lessons learned from an online opt-in comparative survey for women and young people across Western and Arabic countries. More specifically, we will empirically test whether online survey data quality indicators such as breakoff rates, item non response, response time and non-differentiation are culturally dependent and whether relevant differences between Arabic and Western countries exist. The online survey will also include an experimental study design related with violence of extremist groups. Given that the main topic of the survey relates to a socially sensitive topic both in Western and Arabic countries, we will discuss the results of this survey experimental design under the response behavior and social desirability bias perspective.

Surveying Students in Egypt – Lessons from Large-Scale Tracer Study

Dr Laur Lilleoja (Tallinn University) - Presenting Author

The current presentation reflects first-hand experiences from extensive tracer study of Egyptian Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) students.
This study was a part of the program for Enhancing TVET Relevance to Labor Market.

While there are around 1.6m TVET students in Egypt, the target population of study’s first phase included only the graduate student on different curriculums, with a target sample of 20k students.
The second phase was planned 6 months after the graduation, to re-evaluate graduates experiences from the labor market.

This presentation describes the main challenges and contextual peculiarities of each step of the study – including sampling, questionnaire design, data collection, data entry, and data management. Special emphasis will be on response rate of both phases and the issues related with the overall data quality.

All in all, this presentation aims to provide practical advice and prerequisites for everyone who is interested conducting youth surveys in Egypt or in other Arabic countries, while many of the conclusions can probably also be extended to the general populations.

When Saying Yes Does Not Always Mean Yes: Differences Between Oral Consent and Actual Participation in Panel Studies

Dr Christoph Homuth (Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi)) - Presenting Author
Dr Gisela Will (Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi))
Dr Roman Auriga (Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi))

Courtesy and hospitality are important components of Arab culture. Therefore, direct communication tends to be avoided when it comes to the rejection of requests: If Arabs mean no, they may not frankly say it. In the context of survey management, alleged commitments of (possible) participants may therefore always better be taken with a grain of salt.
We find indications for this in the data of the panel study ReGES – Refugees in the German Educational System. In the study, 5,711 interviews were conducted in which parents (of preschool children and adolescents) and the adolescents themselves were asked about various topics in the area of integration, in particular on their situation in the educational system. In addition to the survey, competence tests for children and adolescents were administered. Furthermore, the refugees were asked whether the pedagogical staff in schools and kindergartens were allowed to provide information on the children and adolescents. For legal reasons, participants had to sign a consent form in addition to oral consenting.
The data of the first wave show significant discrepancies between declared willingness to participate and actual participation (signed consent). This concerns different parts of the study, such as the realisation of the competence tests, the written consent to the survey of (preschool) teachers as well as the installation of a panel app, which is used for panel maintenance in particular.
In this contribution, we will describe our findings in detail and we will discuss which other factors may lead to these discrepancies (e.g. interview length), and to what extent cultural particularities could account for this. The latter point is especially relevant as the first wave participants showed a high willingness to participate in follow-up waves (95%) and a better understanding can lead to a realistic assessment of the actual participation in the next panel waves.

Values and Attitudes of People in MENA Measured by the WVS Survey vs Arab Barometer

Dr Veronica Kostenko (Higher School of Economics) - Presenting Author
Ms Olga Strebkova (Higher School of Economics)

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The major datasets on values and attitudes of people in MENA to date are the Arab Barometer (AB), and the World Values Survey (WVS). Theoretical assumption of representativeness is that a well-designed sample driven from the same general population will reflect the whole population with minimal (and measurable) differences. If this is true, nationally-representative country samples from various datasets collected in the same time should show almost the same tendencies. However, some trends, for example, cohort differences in gender attitudes, are evident in one dataset, but there is no trace of them in the other. Some inconsistencies in those datasets are even more alarming: questions about attitudes towards democracy in the WVS sample of Morocco have stunning 55 to 60% of missing values, while in the Arab Barometer this percentage decreases to 12-15%. Then, the issue of representativeness comes into focus, as the remaining 40-45% of the respondents in the WVS are highly likely to be distributed unevenly across population groups. This work seeks to identify those inconsistencies and try to address their sources.

The Nature and Impacts of Attitudes Towards Public Opinion Surveys in the Arab World

Dr Justin Gengler (Qatar University) - Presenting Author
Dr Mark Tessler (University of Michigan)

Against the backdrop of longstanding concerns over the reliability of public opinion data
collected in the Arab world, this article examines for the first time attitudes toward survey research and their effects on survey-taking behavior in an Arab country. Results from recent survey experiments show that Arab citizens are less likely to take part in surveys believed to be sponsored by Western governments, and that Arab survey respondents report more negative views of policies and political candidates when they are endorsed by the United States. We hypothesize and test for a similar but more general mechanism: that some in the Arab world view surveys as inherently in the service of Western scientific or state interests -- whatever the particular characteristics of a survey -- and that this can dampen survey response rates and/or bias substantive findings.

We use original survey data from Qatar, whose diverse population permits comparison across distinct cultural-geographical groupings within a single polity. We find that Qatari and expatriate Arabs hold positive views of surveys, both in absolute terms and relative to individuals from non-Arab nations. Factor analysis shows that the underlying dimensions of survey attitudes mostly mirror those identified in Western settings, but we find one new dimension capturing the perceived intentions of surveys. Two embedded experiments assess the impact of survey attitudes. Results show that attitudes toward surveys impact
willingness to participate, and that negative views about survey reliability and intentions increase motivated under-reporting among Arab respondents, whereas non-Arabs are sensitive only to perceived cognitive and time costs. The findings have direct
implications for consumers and producers of Arab survey data.