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The Global Public Opinions Project (GPOP) sets out to design unique public opinion measures, compare its configuration across contexts and provide insights into the patterns of variance of public opinion within and between countries. In doing so, GPOP also creates a truly global and universal collection of comparative public opinions data that comprises survey responses from a wide range of cross-national and national-level sources. The issue domains, range of countries and the periods under analysis are subject to continuous updates and expansion.

The scope

The project is currently in its initial stages, but already includes a number of exclusive data sets and public opinion measures for 17 European democracies, namely Austria, Belgium (Flanders and Wallonia), Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland (see here). The time frame under analysis depends on the data availability in each country. The project also provide regional measures of public opinion towards immigration for Belgium, France and the United Kingdom (see here).

The project is currently also finalising additional issue-specific interpretations of public opinion (see Codebook), as well as general public opinion data and measures for European democracies. We are also preparing group-specific public opinion measures drawing on educational attainment and income, as well as an expansion of the project to Latin America.

The approach

The project primarily relies on a broad range of scattered survey marginals that are repeated through time, independent of their source. These separate series are then merged according to their issue-focus and overall theme by means of a dyadic ratios algorithm. These topics are to a large extent economic and social in nature, but also comprise political trust, democratic satisfaction and political approval (see Codebook). The resulting measures of issue-specific public opinions can stand on their own (e.g. immigration, Euroscepticism, social conservatism, etc.), but will eventually also provide the foundation for more harmonised and comprehensive public opinion measures.

The research

The comparative public opinions data set forms the foundation for the analysis of public opinion by itself, but also for a wide range of questions related to public opinion and its different components. This includes, but is not limited to,

  • How is public opinion constructed in Europe, and does its composition differ from the USA? Do publics react to certain policies in the same way across the world, or will different countries behave in different ways? What drives changes in public opinion over time?
  • How does public opinion towards immigration in France compare to that in Great Britain? How do publics differ in their opinions towards immigrants in general, and Muslims and asylum seekers more specifically? Can we observe different trends in racist opinions across European democracies?
  • To what extent are opinions towards corruption in Mexico similar to or different from those in say Chile, or Brazil? Can we observe certain within-country variance that could be related to certain political or institutional factors? What determines public opinion towards corruption and how does it affect politics?

The ambitions

This truly comparative and comprehensive data set provides researchers with the ability to analyse patterns of variance between and within countries, as well as help gain insights into the broader input and output questions that relate to public opinion. Specifically, this data set allows us to evaluate and re-examine standing theories and principles about how public opinion might react to exogenous changes, as well as the interconnection between public opinion, policy and political decision-making.

Furthermore, one of core aims of GPOP is to open the study of public opinion to both academic researchers and their non-academic counter-parts. With this ambition in mind, we set out to make our data freely available, and this in a wide range of user-friendly and accessible formats. In addition to this, we also provide an online visualisation tool that facilitates the free and open dissemination of our data.

The participants

The project brings together a team of international researchers with a diverse set of skills and experiences (see Principal Investigator, Project Collaborators and Research Assistants). The project further benefits from the input of and collaboration with a distinguished advisory board, consisting of some of the world’s most renowned public opinion scholars.

Acknowledgements

Financial support for this project is currently provided by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Department of Political Science at the University of Mainz. Previous funding support has been provided by the Manchester Q-Step Centre and the Centro de Investigacíon y Docencia Económicas in Mexico.