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					The analysis potential of the ESS

           Alison Park

       National Centre for
        Social Research
Subject coverage
• Core topics, including:
  – Political behaviour, beliefs and values
  – Moral and social values
  – Social inclusion and exclusion
• Rotating modules:
  – Immigration
  – Citizenship, involvement and democracy
• Comprehensive background data
• Methodological quality and consistency
• Survey data from 22 European nations
  – 20 in combined dataset from end October
  – UK data plus separate Northern Ireland boost
• Context and event data
• Technical reports
Analysis methods
• Simple analyses on-line at ESS website

• More complex analyses by downloading
  SPSS combined dataset
Other cross-national studies
• International Social Survey Programme
• Eurobarometer
• European Values Survey/World Values
Why carry out cross-national
1. Exploring ‘general’ theories about attitudes
   and behaviour
2. Examining relationships between structures
   & circumstances, attitudes & behaviour
3. Illuminating single-nation studies
1. Exploring general theories
•   Post-modernism
•   Modernisation
•   Party identification
•   Social capital, social trust
•   Globalisation
•   etc….
1. Exploring general theories
• Post-modernism, modernisation
  – relationship between social characteristics (eg.
    education, religion), values and behaviour
• Social capital and social trust
  – relationship between networks, membership
    and trust
• Party identification
  – decline of traditional party politics
2. Structures and circumstance
• Differing experiences of EU membership and
• Historical variations in immigration patterns,
  recent trends
• Different party systems, forms of
  government, levels of devolution
2. Structures and circumstance
• Experiences of EU membership, integration
  – institutional and political trust, views about
    multi-level government
• Varying immigration patterns, recent trends
  – Attitudes to immigration and immigrants
• Party systems, government, devolution
  – political efficacy, trust, engagement
3. Single-nation studies
• Low levels of electoral turnout in Britain
  – Misleading focus on party political system,
    failures in education, media…
• Interpreting ‘levels’
  – What is high and what is low?
• Interpreting patterns of association
  – The advantages of cross-national comparison
ESS and cross-national analysis
1. General theories explaining attitudes and
2. Relationships between structures &
   circumstances, attitudes & behaviour
3. Place single-nation studies in context
Key themes
• Importance of consistency and rigour
  – Sample design, respondent selection
  – Translation and equivalence
  – Survey administration
• Choosing countries carefully
  – Importance of context, background and
    historical knowledge
  – Avoid league tables

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