WAPOR 69th Annual Conference

WAPOR’s 69th Annual Conference “Public Opinion in Transition,” was held May 10-12 at the Hotel VanZandt in Austin, Texas (USA) jointly with the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) whose conference began on the same day that WAPOR wrapped up.

In all 159 individual papers were accepted for the final program. The final program had 37 sessions, including four panels, with topics that include both substantive and methodological issues such as:

  • Public Opinion in Transition in a Continent in Transition
  • Political Culture in Latin America
  • Polling for Global Governments: Polling Data as a Method to Explore the Extended Meaning of Identity, Citizenship, and Governance in the 21st Century
  • When “Old” Becomes “Forever Young”: Examining Power Dynamics of Weibo in China

There were 171 attendees this year from 27 countries. This makes the conference in Austin the largest conference held in North America in this century.

Congratulations are in order for the winners of the prestigious prizes presented at the WAPOR Awards Banquet. The Naomi C. Turner prize is given for the best paper presented by a student at the annual conference. This year’s paper as entitled, “Is there a backlash against immigrants from richer countries? Ethnic hierarchy and the limits of group threat,by Alexander Kustov of Princeton University (pictured below with WAPOR President Patricia Moy). As noted at the award banquet, “This paper ticks all the boxes. It tackles an important question − from what set of attitudes, exactly, does opposition to immigration spring? – one that is important both to political psychology and public policy. It demonstrates a command of the existing literature, and of the challenges this literature poses. And it adopts an innovative approach to meet one of the central challenges – an approach organized around pooled datasets from Spain covering the distribution of immigrants from various countries across the various provinces of Spain and the distribution of attitudes to immigration across these provinces. In doing so, it brings to bear an array of data and a range of data-analytic techniques that yield a striking and important set of results.”

The Elizabeth Nelson prize is given for the best paper from a society in transition presented at the annual conference. The winner this year was for the paper, “From Suppressive to Proactive: The Chinese Government’s Control Strategies over Media Coverage in the Area of Popular Protests — The Evidence from Wukan Incident,” by Chao Zhang and Shaowei Chen of the School of Public Policy and Management of Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.

The Robert M. Worcester Prize, given for the best article in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research (IJPOR) in the previous year, was awarded to Antoni Rodon Casarramona of Stanford University. The article, published in the Spring 2015 issue of the IJPOR (Volume 27 Number 2, 2015), is titled “Do all roads lead to the centre?  The unresolved dilemma of centrist self-placement.” Robert Worcester, presenter and benefactor of the award, noted that the article “stands out as a model of methodological analysis, leading to expanded knowledge of the tools of our trade…he will find himself in the Journal’s ‘hall of fame’ with some of the giants of our work.” The article undertakes a comparative  empirical European-wide analysis of 21 countries wherein Rodon looks closely and argues persuasively that we have not yet developed a robust methodological understanding of what we are finding when respondents put themselves on a central point of a numerical scale.  Rodon’s article looks at what had been described as the balance-out hypothesis of Rodon and a party-component hypothesis following the findings the center could be a genuine moderate position, a product of political sophistication and the salience given to post-materialist issues.

Rodon’s conclusion was that respondents’ choices to use the center point depends on the country the individual lives in, whether the person rationalizes his or her vote choice for a party around the center, and depends on his or her level of political sophistication.  He admits that “still some issues that future studies will have to deal with, both substantially and methodologically”.

In the classic tradition of journal papers, Rodon lays out his own questions, derived from the analysis’s insights, which future studies might tackle.

The Janet A. Harkness Award for work from emerging young scholars in the study of multi-national/mulit-cultural/multi-lingual survey research (3M survey research), was given to Katharina Meitinger of , GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, for her work entitled, “Necessary but Insufficient: Why Measurement Invariance Tests Need Online Probing as a Complementary Tool.” According to Katharina: “Multi-group confirmatory factor analysis is a quantitative approach to detect nonequivalent items in cross-national research, whereas the qualitative method of online probing can reveal the reasons for missing cross-national comparability. Using the substantive examples of constructive patriotism and nationalism, this paper demonstrates how the combination of both methods is a fruitful mixed method approach to uncover and explain issues related to cross-national comparability.”

Two honorable mentions were awarded as well. Author Rico Neumann of the University of Washington, was honored for his paper, “Putting Europe to the Test – Understanding Public Opinion during the European Refugee Crisis.” Also honored was Landon Schnabel of Indiana University for his paper, “More Religious, Less Dogmatic: Reexamining Gender Differences in Religion.” This year’s submissions were exceptional and made the job of the judges that much more difficult. A photo with all three award recipients, and committee chair Brad Edwards, is below.

Finally, the Helen Dinerman Award, WAPOR’s most prestigious award given for lifetime contributions in the field of survey research, was presented to Max Kaase of Berlin (his photo appears below with presenter Tom W. Smith). Kaase has been a regular contributor to the fields of comparative politics, political sociology, survey methods, and science policy for decades. He is known for the Political Action Project (Samuel H. Barnes and Max Kaase et al., Political Action: Mass Participation in Five Western Democracies (1979)), the Comparative National Election Project, the Beliefs in Government project (Kaase and Kenneth Newton, Beliefs in Government (1995)), and the European Social Survey (ESS) as co-founder with Roger Jowell (himself a former Dinerman Award winner in 2005). The official citation that was presented in Austin, can be found here.

Austin Award winners_lightened up