ESS Rounds 7 and 8

Lead Research Organisation: National Centre for Social Research
Department Name: Research Department

Abstract

The European Social Survey (ESS) is a unique cross-national study which, since 2002, has sought to measure and explain the relationship between Europe's changing institutions and the attitudes, values and behaviours of its population.

The survey is run biennially. Each Round contains a set of core set of questions, which cover a range of topics including media use, social trust, political affiliation and engagement, subjective well-being, social exclusion, religion, discrimination, national identity citizenship, immigration as well as socio-demographic classification questions.

In addition, each Round contains two rotating question modules. Each module focuses on a particular topic in more detail. The topics for inclusion are selected by an open competition among academics orgnaised by the ESS Central Strategic team. Academic teams submit their applications and justifications for their topics and details of what they seek to measure and how this will be achieved. The topics for Round 7 are Health Inequalities and Immigration. The topics for Round 8 are yet to be finalised.

Each participating country appoints a National Coordinator, whose role is to oversee the implementation of the ESS in that country and a survey organisation which undertakes the fieldwork and prepares the data. NatCen Social Research is applying to undertake both the National Coordinator role and the survey fieldwork in the UK.

NatCen Social Research has a long association with the ESS. Much of the early development of the ESS was led by Roger Jowell, who went on to direct the first five rounds of the ESS. The ESS shares its methodology and attitudinal focus with British Social Attitudes (BSA), which Roger set-up as Chief Executive of NatCen in the 1980s. The ESS has also been influenced by the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), of which NatCen was a founding member in 1985 (and has been a leading member ever since).

The role of UK Co-ordinator for the first six rounds of the ESS has been carried out by Alison Park, of NatCen Social Research. NatCen also undertook the survey fieldwork in 2002 and again in 2008. We have also recently undertaken an experiment aimed at exploring the feasibility of running the ESS as a mixed mode survey, using a combination of face-to-face and online data collection, and have regularly carried out cognitive testing of ESS questions, working with the ESS team at City University.

Planned Impact

The primary beneficiaries of this project will be academics, both in Britain and internationally, with an interest in conducting cross-national research. The data collected as part of ESS will provide them with a unique resource (see section on Academic Beneficiaries and Case for Support for further details).

Academics will readily be able to access the ESS via the ESS website. As in previous years, full documentation will be provided along with the data.

Our proposals include a wide range of dissemination activities to ensure that the ESS data collected are widely known about and used across a range of communities - including academics, government bodies, third sector organizations and journalists. These include:
- Preparing briefing materials about ESS on NatCen's website and distributing email alerts to key groups (including government departments, academic list-servers, specific academic partners, and relevant third sector organisations.
- We would carry out at least two training events about ESS with ESDS over the lifetime of this grant.
- Making contact with key third sector, government and academic institutions and individuals to promote the availability of Round 5 data.
We would also work with NatCen's Communications and Impact team to focus on the non-academic impact of the ESS, concentrating particularly on: government departments; third sector organisations; and journalists. These are described in more detail in our Pathways to Impact plan. They include:
- Providing visually engaging and easily sharable quarterly online content about key ESS findings on our website, promoted by NatCen's Communications Team.
- Hosting an annual workshop or debate about ESS, focusing on non-academic users.
- Committing to including ESS findings in NatCen's annual British Social Attitudes publication.
- Amending NatCen's own ESS website to ensure that it provides clear and accessible content about the study (while not duplicating the effort that is going into the central ESS website.

In all cases it would be important to discuss our strategy with the ESS CCT at City University in order to avoid any overlap or duplication of effort between our work and theirs.

Publications

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Butt, S. & Fitzgerald, R. (2014) British Social Attitudes 31

 
Description The main objectives of the grant were to conduct the European Social Survey fieldwork in the UK for Rounds 7 and 8 and to produce and deliver the associated datasets, both of which were achieved. An associated objective was to draw attention to the data among the wider academic and government community. In other words, the aim was not to specifically investigate a particular issue form which key findings would relate. The ESS covered a range of topics and has spawned a multitude of further analysis. We have highlighted three examples of findings arising from ESS Rounds 7 and 8 in which the grant holder has been closely involved.
In Round 7, an experiment was undertaken on responsive design, a process of attempting to focus fieldwork efforts on certain cases in order to make the responding sample as representative as possible rather than simply trying to maximise survey response rate. The experiment was partially successful in that it demonstrated that the approach should be working to reduce bias in the sample. This was shared with all other ESS National Coordinators and the ESS ERIC team to enable further development in survey methodology.
Analysis of the Round 7 questions on immigration featured as a chapter in the 34th British Social Attitudes Survey Report. The report focused on the attitudes of people in the UK on immigration and how they have changed since 2004 when the questions were previously asked as well as how they compared with other European countries. Among the key findings were that overall, people have become more positive toward the benefits of immigration but more selective on the types of people who should migrate (e.g. those with skills and who speak English). At the same time, it was found that people in the UK were more divided than any other country in terms of the divergence in views between those younger, better-educated compared with those older and less well-educated.
http://www.bsa.natcen.ac.uk/media/39148/bsa34_immigration_final.pdf

Analysis of the Round 7 questions on immigration was also included in a report on Racial Prejudice in Britain. This included the questions on biological racism and uncovered the fact that 18% of UK respondents agreed that "some races or ethnic groups are born less intelligent" and 44% say that "some are naturally harder working". These findings and the wider report shed light on the extent of racial prejudice that still exists in Britain today. This is in contrast to a general trend toward more social liberalism. For example, attitudes toward same sex couples and abortion have changed markedly in the last three decades. http://www.natcen.ac.uk/media/1488132/racial-prejudice-report_v4.pdf
Exploitation Route The results of the responsive design experiment are likely to be of use to survey organisations and methodologists. The results might be used to inform future survey design of the ESS as well as social surveys more generally. In the context of declining response rates to surveys, there is an increased focus on the impact of lower response rates on the representativeness of responding samples and hence how accurately survey findings reflect the views of the population. There is discussion around prioritising the representativeness of the responding sample over simply maximising response rates and the findings relate directly to that.
The findings with regard to immigration will be of interest to policy makers and groups with an interest in migration, social cohesion, communities and race relations. The findings of the BSA report were included at a launch event at the House of Commons and secured significant coverage in the national media:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40408576
The findings will help to highlight the scale and nature of racial prejudice and attitudes to immigration in Britain today. They are likely to prompt further research to deeper understand the formulation of such attitudes as well as help to inform policies aimed at reducing prejudice. However, the main area where the results can be taken forward is through the analysis of the survey data via the ESS data archive. Anyone can undertake analysis of the data and publish their findings across the whole range of ESS topics.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org/data/
 
Description There is no Impact to date. This award was primarily about delivering fieldwork for the European Social Survey in the UK according to the ESS ERIC specifications. This was undertaken. The ESS does not relate to one specific topic area or academic area of interest. It is a multi-topic attitudinal survey and the main objective for the grant is to collect the high quality cross-national ESS data for further academic analysis, rather than actually produce key findings (which in turn mioght lead to impact) as such. Furthermore, because it covers such a broad range of topics, key findings can come from a number of areas and many potential data users. When compiling the Key Findings report, as agreed with the ESRC, we detailed some examples of some key findings NatCen reported (two reports we have published on the climate change questions and also biological racism questions) and described the results of a methodological experiment we conducted. ESRC acknowledged at the time that Key Findings for ESS were not anticipated in the same way as for other grants. Further correspondence to the same effect has been carried out with respect to non-academic narrative impact.
 
Description An event at the Conservative Party Conference 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact NatCen Social Research held an event at the Conservative Party Conference to discuss the referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union.
In or out: What will swing the EU referendum?
•Prof John Curtice
•Damian Green MP
•Daniel Hannan MEP
•Toby Helm, The Observer
•Rachel Ormston, NatCen Social Research (Chair)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.natcen.ac.uk/events/past-events/2015/october/natcen-at-the-conservative-conference/
 
Description An event at the European Parliament in Brussels, hosted by Vicky Ford MEP focusing on political disengagement in the EU. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The talk was followed by a duiscussion and debate among attendees of the finsings.

After the talk, Vicky Ford, MEP wrote in article in the Parliament magazine citing the fata and the European Social Survey.
https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/news/citizens-trust-eu-falling
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.natcen.ac.uk/events/past-events/2014/march/political-disengagement-and-the-decline-of-tru...
 
Description An event at the Labour Party Conference 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact NatCen Social Research held an event at the Labour Party Conference to discuss the referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union.
In or out: What will swing the EU referendum?
Speakers:
•Prof John Curtice
•Chuka Umunna MP
•Graham Stringer MP
•Naomi Jones, NatCen Social Research (Chair)
•Toby Helm, The Observer
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.natcen.ac.uk/events/past-events/2015/september/natcen-at-the-labour-conference/
 
Description Blog on sleep deprivation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A blog summarising results from ESS questions on sleep deprivation from Round 8 of the ESS. Comparisons of results across European countries were made
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.natcen.ac.uk/blog/sleeplessness-%E2%80%93-a-peculiarly-british-problem
 
Description Blog published on ESS findings on attitudes to democracy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A comment on the blog website received.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.natcen.ac.uk/blog/on-this-international-day-of-democracy,-is-it-time-to-start-learning-fr...
 
Description How will the UK respond to another coalition government? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact An article in NatCen's newsletter and an online blog, reporting finsings from the ESS questions on people's preferences for the ypes of government over time and in comparison with other European countries. Reached in excess of 4,00 people with 250+ unique pages views about attitudes to the government question in the ESS.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.natcen.ac.uk/blog/how-will-the-uk-respond-to-another-coalition-government
 
Description Social Research Association event on BSA 33rd Report 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact An SRA event where findings from the BSA 33rd Report were presented and discussed also included findings from some of the ESS welfare questions from Round 7.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description The annual BSA launch event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Findings from the 34th BSA report were presented to an audience of interested parties including MPs, Lords, government social researchers at an event at the House of Commons. Findings from the ESS Immigration chapter were presented and discussed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Welfare, poverty and benefit fraud: long term patterns and recent developments. A presentation at the Royal Statistical Society Annual Conference 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A presentation on attitudes to welfare was given at the annual conference of the RSS. This was mainly based on findings from the British Social Attitudes Survey but also included some international comparisons using ESS data from 2008 and 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description What do British people really think about immigration? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A newsletter article and online blog reporting finsings to ESS questions on attitudes to immigration and the impacts of immigration. Print copy went to 4,000+ recipients and the online blog was NatCen's most read blog of 2015, with over 900 unique page views.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.natcen.ac.uk/blog/what-do-british-people-really-think-about-immigration
 
Description What do British people think about the state of the health service? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A newsletter article and online blog discussing ESS findings on attitudes to the Health Service over time and compared with the rest of Europe. Reached 4,000+ including 149 unique page views.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.natcen.ac.uk/blog/what-do-british-people-think-about-the-state-of-the-health-service
 
Description When I get that feeling,I want spiritual healing alternative medicine use in Europe 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact This was a blog on the NatCen website which included analysis of questions from ESS Round 7 on Health, specifically the comparative prevalence and use of complimentary remedies. It compared the low use in the UK with higher use in some other European countries.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.natcen.ac.uk/blog/when-i-get-that-feeling,-i-want-spiritual-healing-alternative-medicine-...