Conference and Workshop II: Comparability (2014)

Interdisciplinary Studies of Political Behavior and the Use of ‘Big Data’

May 6-9, 2014, OSU Main Campus, Columbus OH

Conference program

Workshop program

The Mershon Center for International Security Studies, The Ohio State University (OSU), and CONSIRT – Cross-national Studies: Interdisciplinary Research and Training Program, OSU and the Polish Academy of Sciences organize the international two-part event, Interdisciplinary Studies of Political Behavior and the Use of ‘Big Data’ (May 6-9, 2014, OSU Main Campus, Columbus OH): (1) the Conference “Interdisciplinary Studies of Political Behavior: From Elections to Protests” (May 6-7, the Mershon Center), followed by (2) the Workshop “Comparability of Data” (May 8-9, Department of Sociology). This event benefits from the financial support of the Polish Studies Initiative at The Ohio State University.

The focus is on the relationship between political participation and democracy in light of both theoretical understanding and empirically based research. We assume that analyzing individual and contextual determinants of political behavior can be approached from various theoretical approaches used in political science, sociology, economics and other disciplines. Empirically, most studies in the field employ data from a single cross-national survey project (e.g World Values Survey, or European Social Survey). Yet, the wealth of existing information is much greater, as international projects could be harmonized ex post and turned into ‘big data’ consisting of unusually large number of variables with individuals nested in countries and time periods. Survey data harmonization of this type is rarely attempted, and no such project has focused on protest and democracy. Details on the international survey projects we consider, as well as other information about the harmonization process, are available at Our project is funded by both Poland’s National Science Centre and the Mershon Center.

The Conference, “Interdisciplinary Studies of Political Behavior: From Elections to Protests,” May 6 – 7, 2014, will be held at the Mershon Center (501 Neil Ave, Columbus OH). The conference brings together noted scholars in the field of democracy, politics and protest, and cross-national methodology, to contribute – via lectures, presentations and discussions in a multidisciplinary forum – to furthering our understanding of democracy and political participation around the world.  For regular sessions, we invited theoretically grounded empirical papers that engage with causes and consequences of different types of political participation, including but not limited to elections, conventional and hard political protest, and decision-making processes of solving conflicts by peaceful or non-peaceful means.

The Conference is followed by the two-day Workshop, “Comparability of Survey Data on Political Behavior following Ex Post Harmonization of Selected Survey Projects” (May 8 – 9, 2014, Department of Sociology, Townshend Hall, 1885 Neil Avenue).  The Workshop is devoted to key technical issues of data harmonization and comparability assessment following harmonization. The first day of the Workshop (May 8) will be devoted to experts’ discussion of ways of assessing comparability of cross-national survey data for the purposes of harmonization, while the second day (May 9) targets primarily graduate students interested in cross-national survey research. The data base for the workshop contains the full documentation, including data files, of 21 large international survey projects conducted over the last five decades:World/European Value Survey (W/EVS), International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), European Social Survey(ESS), Eurobarometer (EB) and regional barometers conducted in Africa, Latin America and Asia, as well as a number of other projects devoted to study political behaviours and attitudes. The master file includes 1701 specific data files that correspond to country/year/survey, in which information on over 2 million individuals from 130 countries is recorded using some 300 variables.

The Workshop on data comparability is intended for graduate students in the social sciences who have a strong interest in analyzing cross-national data, and who possess a sound background in quantitative research methods.