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Thursday | 17 April, 2008

Counting People Makes them Count | Richard Rose

Richard Rose, a renowned specialists in the field of Social Capital, is currently visiting Georgia to deliver trainings at CRRC. He offered a public lecture setting out the case for conducting surveys, and entitled "Counting People Helps Make People Count". Not that we needed convincing, but we still enjoyed the way the argument was set out.


As Rose argued, surveys give a direct voice to people, show how they are living, what they are thinking, and identifies both what the problems are and who has them. He contrasted this bottom -up approach with a top-down approach to policy, and suggested that it has a special place between journalism, which tells one-off stories and ethnography or anthropology, which tell complex stories that become difficult to generalize. Data, in other words, are the plural of anecdotes. A concrete example he offered was a survey conducted in Latvia, designed to focus on poverty among female pensioners. As survey results showed, this was a relatively minor problem, compared to child poverty -- an insight that can help to direct scarce resources.


However, there also can be a catch, when data is turned into a league table, since only one can ever be on top. All others can see themselves as losers, relatively speaking. Yet this realization does not need to invoke the particularism of Johann Gottfried Herder, who had argued that basically all comparison is disastrous. Instead, making progress is the relevant category. As Rose put it: "if you talk about league tables, the conversation is pessimistic. If you talk about making progress, you can focus on making changes". Little happiness lies in comparing oneself to Sweden, but tracking progress in overcoming destitution charts a concrete path to where one wants to go.


Packaged into the talk were many engaging tidbits: admonishments that typical poverty data is one-dimensional ("relative poverty as a curse of Fabian Socialism"); the observation that throughout the former socialist bloc answers to "do you feel freer than before?" remain quite sticky, in that the positive sea change is not forgotten; the curious observation that 58% of Turkish population appears worried about Christian missionaries; and that Russia after the collapse for a long time lacked the "why we are here" speech, something that in post-1945 Germany was easier to deliver. His curriculum vitae lists many of his relevant publications.


The overall outlook was quite optimistic, in that he saw extensive progress. Professor Rose is currently writing a book about Transition and After, which will reflect many of these themes. Currently he is offering a training course on designing Social Capital questionnaires. He also urged us to publish more results from our Data Initiative, which we will be doing over the next few weeks.
08.08.2015 | Saturday

What do CB interviewers’ ratings of respondents’ intelligence tell us?

CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) surveys regularly collect information about how the interviewers assess each of the conducted interviews – so called paradata that provides additional insight into the conditions surrounding the interviews (e.g., whether someone besides the respondent and the interviewer was present during the face-to-face interview), as well as interviewers’ subjective assessments of, for example, level of sincerity of the respondents.
12.05.2016 | Thursday

Public support for Democracy is on the decline in Georgia

Following the first ever peaceful transition of power in Georgia’s 2012 parliamentary elections, the country improved its position in the Freedom House and Polity IV democracy rankings. Results from the latest polls, however, show that public support for democracy in Georgia has declined over the past few years.
13.11.2014 | Thursday

Exploring Homophobia in Georgia: Part 2

This is the second blog post in a series analyzing homophobia in Tbilisi. The first blog post in this series can be found here. 

Who tends to be more homophobic in Tbilisi – men or women? This blog post explores differences in homophobic attitudes between males and females using data from CRRC-Georgia’s survey of Tbilisi residents on the events of May 17, 2013, and shows that men tend to be more homophobic than women. Moreover, the findings show that men are more homophobic when they believe that homosexuality is inborn, rather than acquired.
04.12.2014 | Thursday

SME Performance in Georgia and Armenia: Part 2

As discussed in the first blog post of this series, the results of the CRRC Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey show that Georgians demonstrate higher levels of interpersonal and institutional trust than Armenians. These types of trust are important indicators of social capital, which is often taken as a necessary condition for the presence of a robust, productive entrepreneurial class and small and medium enterprise (SME) sector.
15.02.2012 | Wednesday

Fatalism and Political Perceptions in Georgia

Widespread apathy and a general disbelief that good can come from joint effort is a major factor hindering social capital in Georgia. One indicator of apathy can be fatalism, meaning the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable. This blog explores the level of political fatalism in Georgia and how it is connected to Georgians’ perceptions of the country’s current political course and democracy.
29.06.2012 | Friday

Exploring Neighbourhoods in Georgia: Promises and Challenges for Collaboration

In 2011 CRRC conducted a survey on Volunteering and Civic Participation in Georgia. A part of this survey aimed at exploring relationships between neighbours. The results indicate that the relationships between neighbours in Georgia can be a promising starting point for building social capital and achieving improved housing conditions through collaboration.
27.08.2010 | Friday

Ask CRRC: what does the public actually know?

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center showing that 18% of Americans think that US President Barack Obama is Muslim, and that a further 43% respond that they don't know what religion the President practices, has raised discussions about the level of political knowledge in democracies. Indeed, Newsweek has published a slideshow showing dumb things that Americans believe.
21.03.2008 | Friday

Philanthropy in Georgia

Corporate Social Responsibility, a fashionable issue, is becoming a topic in the South Caucasus as well. CRRC research fellow, Giorgi Meladze, explored Georgian corporations’ generosity in his research undertaken in 2006.
03.05.2008 | Saturday

Exit Polls | Take Two

Readers may recall that we voiced some concern with regards to exit polls. Here is a fascinating account, first-hand, by a reputed pollster having what they describe as an "Adventure in Baku".
06.05.2008 | Tuesday

Diversity Polling on the Caucasus | Ask500

Sometimes it's worth clicking on those Gmail links. "Ask 500" is a website in beta, the web version of a straw poll. Polling? Surveys? Obviously I wanted to know more. To say it up front: it's about as unrepresentative as you can get, since it assembles those that suffer from terminal curiosity.
09.07.2008 | Wednesday

Caucasus Data | Language: Russian versus English?

Recently, we happened upon an article that talks about the use of Russian across the Caucasus. Is Russian becoming obsolete? According to the article, some Georgian politicians suggest this is the case. At the same time, the article points out that the uptake of English is too slow to replace Russian as a lingua franca.
17.09.2008 | Wednesday

What do Russians think about the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia? -- Data Snapshot

How do urban Russians view the conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia? From September, 5th-8th, 2008 the Analytical Center of Yuri Levada conducted a survey in ten big cities of the Russian Federation, interviewing 1000 Russian respondents. We have translated the results into English here, as they are only available in the original Russian on the Levada website.
23.10.2008 | Thursday

McCain vs Obama: Caucasus preferences


So here's something that we are a little puzzled about. The Economist is undertaking a poll to see which American Presidential candidate is favored by the world. In a very blue worldwide map, rooting for Obama, two noticeable yellowish spots, Macedonia and Georgia. McCain, of course, is popular in Georgia for having said "Today we all are Georgians" during the recent conflict.
08.11.2008 | Saturday

World Public Opinion: Azerbaijan in Focus

World Public Opinion is the initiative of the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) of the University of Maryland that explores public opinion on a variety of topics in 25 countries across the globe, including Azerbaijan, the only South Caucasus country represented in the survey. Russia and Ukraine are the other two former USSR countries that the project includes.