Letter from WAPOR President (June 2019)
Dear WAPOR Members,
May 2019 has been an active month at WAPOR. We just had a wonderful Annual Conference in Toronto, a lovely, dynamic and diverse city, where we also held very productive Business and Council Meetings. First, I would to give special thanks to Doug Miller -Chair of the 2019 WAPOR Annual Conference-; Tatiana Karabchuk -Chair of Conference Committee- and Claire Durand and Renae Reis for their enormous contribution to the organization of the Conference, which gave such an excellent result.
The theme of the Conference this year was “Public Opinion and Democracy”, and it was chosen with the belief that democratic principles are central to the field of survey research and we need to contribute with our thinking to the ongoing debate regarding the decline of democracy in many places and its implications. It was really inspiring and I think we all learned a lot and were able to exchange ideas with colleagues and do some networking.
The Conference was held following AAPOR’s and this was the opportunity to organize several activities together: an outstanding plenary session on Populism around the World with Pippa Norris, Laura Silver -from Pew- and Gary Langer; on top of two excellent joint sessions on the subjects of Public Opinion and Democracy and Cross National Surveys.
We believe it was a great success in representing the richness of our worldwide membership, with over 120 presentations, 200 delegates in attendance from 38 different countries covering all regions: North-America, Latin-America, Europe, Middle-East, Asia and Africa. It was encouraging to see such a big and diverse part of our WAPOR community so engaged and committed to interchanged, discussion and improvement of quality standards for opinion polling and research.
The Council’s ongoing focus on making continuous improvements to our Conferences and to strengthen communication with our members and the outside world was reflected in the number of different formats of presentations we enjoyed at the event: 46 thematic panels and sessions, several posters on subjects related to democracy and public opinion with young researchers presenting their recent work. We also offered four training courses and launched an Innovation room -fully booked during the three-day conference- with seven round tables that allowed for more participation and peer to peer exchange on a range of important topics from Democracy 3.0, to regaining trust in polling and how in our profession we can better work together.
For those of you who were not able to attend, you will be have the possibility to see the roundtables in the coming month, since they have been recorded and are in process of being edited posted on our website. You can also find the Conference program online at https://access.wapor.org/programme2019.php. Here you will find that you can access the presentations that were uploaded by the authors. If you are the author of a presentation, and would like to upload it to share with others, you can still do so here: https://access.wapor.org, or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in the program.
Allow me to remind you that we are working to have stronger and more continuous activity on social media, so we invite you to follow our WAPOR Facebook page and Twitter account. You will find there some interesting videos I recommend not to miss Ronald Inglehart’s video as well as other videos from our colleagues that attended the conference. Furthermore, I encourage you to post items on our social media channels and invite colleagues and others to join on-going conversations on both platforms. We aim to make our social media presence useful to everyone.
A real highlight of the Conference was having well-renowned Andre Blais from the University of Montreal as Keynote speaker, addressing the subject of “Citizens Assessments of Electoral Democracy,” concluding that evaluations of electoral democracy are rated positively and have not become more negative and that partisan preferences of the privileged are not more represented in electoral outcomes.
Following our mission of strengthening relationships with other organizations we held three joint WAPOR_ESOMAR _CRIC sessions on the accuracy of polls in Canada, challenges in public opinion research and the future of opinion polls. For more information on this you can see the following press release.
On Monday the 20th, we were lucky to have the traditional Awards Banquet at the private Royal Canadian Yacht Club on Toronto Islands, an iconic beautiful place, where several scholars´ research and achievements were cited. Kirils Marakovs, of the University of Essex, received the Janet A. Harkness Student Paper Award for the paper entitled “Does public support for the welfare state translate into support for the environmental state? Multilevel evidence from the European Social Survey.”
The Elizabeth H. Nelson Award for the best paper presented at the annual conference was endowed to Ricardo Gonzalez, Esteban Muñoz, and Josefa Henriquez for their paper, “Connecting the dots: What does personal experience with health care have to do with organizational health system preferences?“. This was an original and creative contribution and the authors tackled an important subject: the satisfaction with the health system based on people’s experiences.
The Robert M. Worcester Prize, awarded for the best article published the previous year in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research, went to Yariv Tsfati and Shira Dvir-Gvirsman for their article “Silencing Fellow Citizens: Conceptualization, Measurement, and Validation of a Scale for Measuring the Belief in the Importance of Actively Silencing Others.”
The highlight of the evening was Juan Díez Nicolás receiving the Helen Dinerman Award for his lifetime contribution to public opinion research. Juan is one of the most important founding figures of Sociology in Spain, with impressive record of publications and academic contributions in Europe and the world. I had the honour as President to give Juan the award and here you can find more about him in the introductory words.
On Tuesday 21st, the Members’ Business meeting was held to present and discuss the Council strategy for the coming years. For those who were not able to attend you can find the presentation of our objectives and plan HERE.
Lastly, we had a full day post conference Council meeting going through all the actions planned for two year period, including our next annual Conference in Salamanca together with our LatinAmerican Chapter. It is scheduled September/October 2020. Exact dates coming soon! I take the opportunity to publicly thank the Council for all their work and commitment to WAPOR.
I recommend you to stay alert to our news because there is a lot more to come in the next weeks and months. And please answer our member survey when you receive it by email since your opinion is very important for WAPOR and its future. We hope you will be actively involved in all the things we have planned and you can always email me if you have any ideas or questions.
Thanks and warm regards,