Creating a new global public opinion database

Neundorf, Anja (2018). Creating a new global public opinion database. [Data Collection]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive. 10.5255/UKDA-SN-852924

This research will study the legacy impacts of previous authoritarian regimes on its citizens' political attitudes today. It thereby addresses important and unresolved questions of democratisation, by using a new methodological approach of cohort analysis to examine the lasting legacy of authoritarian dictatorships. Previous research has overlooked the possibility of citizens' formative experiences in non-democratic systems that might impact their political attitudes, values, and behaviour even after the existence of these regimes. We expect that these legacy impacts have important implications for the development of a democratic political culture in transitioning societies. We will hence develop a new theory of authoritarian socialization, which assumes that different authoritarian regimes vary in the way they suppress their citizens, and that this in turn will lead to distinctive beliefs and behaviour in the population. Studying the experience of whole generations (or cohorts as they are also referred to) who have been socialised under dictatorships makes it possible to investigate whether regimes differ in terms of the impact they may have on their citizens' beliefs. Further we are interested in whether and how this imprint might negatively affect the establishment of a democratic political culture. The objective of this project is to develop a typology of regime characteristics and their lasting impact on the population. We expect that this typology and an accompanying policy brief will inform the practical developmental work of organisations working in transitioning societies. This objective will be achieved by conducting a comprehensive analysis of post-authoritarian countries from different parts of the world during the entire 20th century that experienced different types and durations of suppression. This includes the military regimes in South America, but also the socialist regimes in the former Eastern block. It is not possible to study the impact of these regimes during their existence, as representative public opinion research is not possible during dictatorships. We argue, however, that this is not necessary. Instead we rely on the method of cohort analysis, developed by the principle investigator Dr. Neundorf. One of the main methodological innovations of this project is that this method allows us to identify distinct characteristics of those generations that were mainly socialised during dictatorships. To test our new theory of authoritarian socialisation, we will merge existing survey data from numerous post-authoritarian countries. Today this is possible, as survey research and public opinion polls are widespread beyond established Western democracies. For example, since 1995 several Latin American countries annually take part in the Latinobarometro. Other data that will be used include the World Value Survey (1980-2012), and Asiabarometer (2001-2012) as well as all six rounds of the ESRC-funded European Social Survey (2002-2012). The different survey questions included in the diverse datasets will be harmonised so that a joint analysis is possible. This is a major task of this project and will yield a unique longitudinal, global database of individuals' political attitudes and behaviour. In order to assign the regime characteristics under which each generation grew up, we will further merge existing data sources (e.g. Polity IV and Autocratic Regime Transitions data) on authoritarian regimes to measure the distinct features of each regime. We will focus, on factors such as intra-elite structure, extent, scope and density of repression, and transition to democracy. The two datasets of individual-level survey data and regime characteristics will be jointly analysed using quantitative statistical analysis of hierarchical age, period, cohort analysis to estimate the generational differences in democratic attitudes and behaviour.

Data description (abstract)

As part of this project, we produced a new dataset, which harmonizes numerous existing public opinion surveys from across the world to create a unique global public opinion dataset. These studies consists of over 1,100 individual country-year datasets. Putting all these together, covers 160 countries and over 3 Million respondents.

Data creators:
Creator Name Affiliation ORCID (as URL)
Neundorf Anja University of Nottingham
Name Affiliation ORCID (as URL)
Shorrocks Rosalind University of Manchester
Sponsors: Economic and Social Research Council
Grant reference: ES/N012127/1
Topic classification: Politics
Society and culture
Keywords: surveys, public opinion polls, political attitudes, democracy
Project title: The legacy of authoritarian regimes on democratic citizenship
Grant holders: Anja Neundorf, Johannes Gerschewski, Tim Kelsall, Iñaki Sagarzazu, Natasha Marie Ezrow
Project dates:
1 February 201631 July 2017
Date published: 04 Dec 2017 10:33
Last modified: 30 Jul 2018 13:11

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