“The Networks of Public Opinion: New Theories, New Methods”
For the first time ever, the WAPOR Annual Conference was held in a Latin American country. From June 16 to 19, 2015, Buenos Aires was home to 230 researchers and consultants from over 30 different nations, as well as 40 special guests, who discussed and exchanged ideas and experiences about “The Networks of Public Opinion: New Theories, New Methods,” the 68th Conference theme.
One of the reasons for the success of this meeting lies in WAPOR’s determination to consolidate its presence throughout different continents (i.e., the 65th Conference held in Hong Kong in 2012) as well as in the endeavors of WAPOR Latin America regional chapter. The chapter, founded in 2007 by a group of Latin American researchers, is responsible for the organization of the Annual Latin American Congress (the first one was held in Colonia, Uruguay, and the sixth took place last year in Santiago de Chile ) and the edition of the Latin America Public Opinion Journal (Revista Latinoamericana de Opinión Pública) that has recently published its fifth issue.
WAPOR’s 68th Annual Conference was co-hosted with Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero (UNTREF) a leading National Public University founded in 1995. In addition, UNTREF lent us the premises of the Centro Cultural Borges, a charming venue in the heart of Buenos Aires City.
Papers delved into the general issue of new networks and their impact upon the structure of Public Opinion and its study. Discussions and debates were held at 46 concurrent sessions, three plenary sessions and a special panel about the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. Just going through the program, one easily grasps the many different approaches of public opinion researchers, including the impact of the new social networks on electoral campaigns and elections, electoral behavior, political culture, market research, social studies (violence, gender, housing, youth, etc), public opinion and foreign policy, democracy and Human Rights, cross-national and cross-cultural studies as well as methodological and theoretical issues.
The plenary sessions explored relevant topics. The first one “The Networked Public Sphere and the Structure of Public Opinion,” presented by Michael Traugott (University of Michigan) and Michael Link (The Nielsen Company, AAPOR) and Dhavan Shah (University of Wisconsin-Madison) were the discussants about the issue.
The second one, organized by Marcia Cavallari and Helio Gastaldi (IBOPE, Brasil) was entitled “Elections in Latin America” and the guest speakers were Eduardo Fidanza (Poliarquía – Argentina), Ignacio Zuasnabar (Equipos MORI, Uruguay) and José Luis Galvez Vera (Equipos MORI, Bolivia).
Last but not least, Kathleen Frankovic (former consultant for CBS News) brought together a group of renowned researchers and consultants to debate about the relationship between “Polls, elections and the media.” The panel consisted of Sir Robert Worcester (Ipsos MORI, UK), Marjorie Connelly, (retired New York Times polling editor, USA), Floyd Ciruli, (Ciruli Associates, University of Denver, USA), Alejandro Moreno (Reforma and ITAM, México), Luis Eduardo Gonzales (CIFRA, Uruguay) and Manuel Mora y Araujo (Ipsos, Mora y Araujo, Argentina).
The award dinner, with over 100 guests, was hosted at the Circolo Italiano, a French style Art Nouveau inspired mansion of early 20th century. María Laura Tagina (Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina) was awarded the Elizabeth Nelson Prize for Best Paper from a Society in Transition presented at the Conference for her paper entitled, “Economy, Context and Elections in Argentina”; Marko Kovic (Universität Zürich, IPMZ) achieved the Naomi C. Turner Prize for the Best Conference Paper Presented by a student for his paper, “Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind? Mobilization cascades indirect democratic initiatives”; and the Worcester Prize (2014) was awarded to Adam Shehata (Mid Sweden University) for his work entitled “Game Frames, Issue Frames, and Mobilization: Disentangling the Effects of Frame Exposure and Motivated News Attention on Political Cynicism and Engagement. The special award on the 800 anniversary of the Magna Carta was received by Tamas Bodor for his paper “The Tale of Two Regions: The Fragile Idea of a Sovereign Society.” WAPOR’s most prestigious prize, the Helen Dinerman Award, was given to Shanto Iyangar (Stanford University) for his lifetime achievements in the field.
The conference ended with a farewell toast and an invitation to visit the Immigration Museum, sponsored by UNTREF. This museum is located at the old Immigrants’ Hotel and it conveys the country’s story of immigration with contemporary art interventions; a delightful and enriching experience, indeed.
Finally, I wish to especially thank WAPOR and Patricia Moy, its president, for the trust placed on me and my team. It was an intense enterprise that lasted almost a year, but in the end I believe it was worth the effort. I hope that everybody was able to make the most out of this meeting with colleagues and that you enjoyed the city of Buenos Aires.
María Braun WAPOR Buenos Aires 2015 | Conference Chair MBC MORI | President