How to use international survey data for social research

A.Y. 2021/2022
3
Max ECTS
20
Overall hours
SSD
SPS/11
Language
English
Learning objectives
The course introduces the students to some of the most important international comparative surveys, as a source of data to carry out social research. These surveys represent the telescopes of social sciences and they are fundamental to understand social change in contemporary societies.
The course is organized as a series of workshops, each of them presenting a specific survey and illustrating the way to use the data coming from that survey. Some examples: European Social Survey (ESS), World/European Values Study (WVS/EVS), International Social Survey Program (ISSP), Eurobarometer, etc.
During the workshops, the students learn how survey data are produced and what are the research questions that can be addressed with these data. The range of topics is broad: trust, social attitudes, political orientation, work preferences, family arrangements, personal well-being, use of media, cultural consumption, and many others.
This course is particularly suited for students with an inclination toward empirical research.
Expected learning outcomes
The course supplies students with first-hand experience with international comparative surveys. They acquire awareness about the process of data production, focusing on the quality of data, and they understand the importance of comparative and longitudinal analysis. They also learn to access and use these data for their research.
Students also learn the basic procedures to analyze survey data (graphical representation, tabulation).
The course can be particularly useful for students who intend to carry out an empirical dissertation using data coming from international surveys
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Responsible
Lesson period
Second trimester
There is not yet a decision on how the course will be held. In any case, the workshops will allow students to interact and actively participate. There will also be online Q&A sessions, where students could bring in all their questions and requests for clarification.
The platform for student-teacher interactions is MC Teams.
Updates concerning the course and supplementary materials will be mainly posted in the dedicated MS Teams group. The Ariel website will only provide basic information.
Office hours will take place remotely, upon request by email.
Course syllabus
Introductory seminars:
International comparative surveys as the telescopes of social sciences.
Secondary analysis for social research.

List of thematic workshops
Workshop 1: studying social change with the European Social Survey;
Workshop 2: values across contemporary societies with the European Values Study (WVS/EVS)
Workshop 3: a global approach to the study of attitudes with the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP)
Workshop 4: How do people decide their vote? Exploring national and European electoral studies

Each seminar includes two lectures of 2 hours each.
The first two hours gives the basic facts concerning the survey at stake.
The next two hours illustrate how to use those survey data for social research.
Prerequisites for admission
To follow the course, it is advisable to have some basic knowledge of research methodology and comparative social studies. It is also useful to have a basic knowledge of statistical methods for data analysis. However, these are not pre-conditions, and the course is suited for any students motivated to learn to use empirical information either academically or professionally.
Teaching methods
The course is organized as a series of seminars, with a part that presents the different international research programs, and a part that illustrates the use of the data coming from each specific survey.
The students are stimulated to discover what is offered by the different surveys, exploring individually the internet resources available and the data.
Easy exercises are proposed to illustrate how to access data and to analyze them.
The workshops will allow students to interact and actively participate. There will also be online Q&A sessions, where students could bring in all their questions and requests for clarification.

The platform for student-teacher interactions is MC Teams.
Updates concerning the course and supplementary materials will be mainly posted in the dedicated MS Teams group. The Ariel website will only provide basic information.
Office hours will take place remotely, upon request by email.
Teaching Resources
Biolcati-Rinaldi F., Vezzoni C (2012) L'analisi secondaria nella ricerca sociale. Bologna: Il Mulino, 2012, ISBN: 9788815239204. Chapter 1 and 3.

Dotti Sani G., Vezzoni C. (2019) The European Social Survey: A Telescope for the Social Sciences. Polis 2/2019, 179-184. DOI: 10.1424/94244

Lomazzi, Vera; Vezzoni, Cristiano (2018) Consolidamento e innovazione nelle surveys transnazionali europee. Sociologia e Ricerca Sociale 116/2018, 143-158. DOI:10.3280/SR2018-116012

Biolcati, Ferruccio; Rovati, Giancarlo; Segatti, Paolo (a cura di) (2020)
Come cambiano gli italiani. Valori e atteggiamenti dagli anni Ottanta a oggi
Assessment methods and Criteria
The evaluation will take place through the submission of a brief report. In the report, the students should choose a simple research question and try to answer it using data coming from one of the international survey presented.
The report will be organized as a short academic paper:
- Research question;
- Background of the question;
- Presentation of the data;
- Data analysis (extremely simplified, through tabulation or graphs);
- Answer to the question;
- Discussion.
SPS/11 - POLITICAL SOCIOLOGY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Professor: Vezzoni Cristiano
Professor(s)
Reception:
Following the current rules concerning the Covid-19 emergency, office hours are held online. Please, send an e-mail to fix an appointment.
MS Teams Platform (Room 4, First floor, Via Conservatorio)