Democratic Values and Protest Behavior
Data Harmonization, Measurement Comparability, and Multi-Level Modeling in Cross-National Perspective
The project Democratic Values and Protest Behavior: Data Harmonization, Measurement Comparability, and Multi-Level Modeling is a joint endeavour of the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, and the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, The Ohio State University, and is financed by the Polish National Science Centre in the framework of the Harmonia grant competition (2012/06/M/HS6/00322).
The Harmonization Project is part of CONSIRT Labs (Cross-national Studies: Interdisciplinary Research and Training program, of OSU and PAN). See this website for a list of members of CONSIRT Lab: Methodology of Survey Data Harmonization and selected resources.
This project (hereafter, Harmonization Project) is driven by closely linked substantive and methodological considerations. Substantively, it engages with the relationship between democracy and protest behavior in comparative, cross-national perspective. Political protest can be of various types, such participation in demonstrations or signing petitions. Regarding democracy, we consider both democratic practice – usually measured by “democratic indexes” characterizing countries – and democratic values that people hold. The project incorporates relevant literature to develop a theoretical model that explains variation in political protest in light of individual-level characteristics, country-level determinants, and interactions between the two types of factors.
Testing it calls for data at the individual- and at the country-level that vary over time and across space. The Harmonization Project sets out to create comparable measurements of political protest, social values, and demographics via ex-post harmonization of variables from international survey projects and append them with macro-level variables from external sources, such as the World Bank, OSCE, UN agencies, Transparency International, and others (Data). Two types of source variables are selected for harmonization: technical variables, provided by survey administrators, and variables of substantive interest. The list of variables is not closed, thanks to the flexible set-up of the programming environment we are using.
Besides its contribution to social science knowledge about determinants of peoples’ propensity to engage in political protest, the Harmonization Project is important for the methodology of survey research. It prompts one to reconsider how exiting survey data can best be used, in light of possibilities for standardization and ex-post harmonization, but also with regards to accounting for various methodological problems in the existing surveys.