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What insights can multi-country surveys provide about people and societies?
Ronald Inglehart & Christian Welzel
Source of the information:
American Political Science Association
This paper focuses on the question: what insights can be obtained from multi-country surveys, and only from multi-country surveys – provided they are designed and conducted properly?
The author argues that properly aggregated survey data from a large number of societies are needed to analyse the impact of mass beliefs and values on democratic institutions or any other societal-level phenomenon.The analysis of such linkages is central to testing key hypotheses in democratic theory—and the availability of data from large cross-national surveys makes it possible to analyse cross-level linkages more effectively today than ever before.
Much of the research on support for democracy assumes that individual-level lip service to democracy provides a reliable measure of how securely established democratic institutions are at the societal level. At first glance, this seems very plausible—but the relationship between mass attitudes and stable democracy can only be tested at the societal level. And it turns out that there is a surprisingly weak linkage between overt support for democracy, and actual democracy as measured by the Freedom House scores or other indicators of the degree and stability of democratic institutions. Empirically, the Albanians and Azerbaijanis are more likely to say favorable things about democracy than are the Swedes or the Swiss.This does not mean that democracy is more securely established in Albania than in Sweden.
In short, relationships that apply at the individual-level do not necessarily apply at the societal-level—and vice versa.