Social Climate

Surveyors meet in Croatia

MAY 3, Cavtat, Croatia. This week I was on official travel to Cavtat, on the scenic Adriatic coast of Croatia, to attend the annual meeting of the International Social Survey Program (www.issp.org).

ISSP, set up in 1984, is a private, nonprofit consortium that does cross-national social surveys, and shares the data for public use. Its members are survey organizations, mostly academic, from around the world.  Each represents one nation, and is responsible for financing its own surveys and travel costs.  ISSP now has 48 members, of which 40 attended, including new members Palestine and Iceland for the first time.


The Croatian member of ISSP is the Institute for Social Research in Zagreb. It hosted the meeting at the township of Cavtat (pronounced “Savtat”), a short drive or boat ride to beautiful Dubrovnik, the merchant city that had linked East and West for centuries.

This totally walled city, about twice the size of Intramuros, is a Unesco heritage site. It was an aristocratic republic from 1382 to 1808, when it was governed by a series of rectors, each elected for a term of only one month and ineligible for reelection until after two years. We were given a city tour, compliments of the mayor of Dubrovnik.


Croatia, with a population of less than 5 million, is 85 percent Roman Catholic. For centuries, only Catholics were allowed to reside within the walls of Dubrovnik, except for Jews, who had their own ghetto. At present, contraception is widely available; divorce is legal, and so is abortion in certain circumstances.  Ordinary Croats, like store personnel, waiters or taxi drivers, speak excellent English, having taken it as a second language starting in primary school.

Since becoming the 12th ISSP member in 1990, SWS has attended all annual meetings, except some that conflicted with its election surveys or exit polls, as in May 2010. It has done all the ISSP surveys since 1991, including the three on religion which were the basis for the recent report about the Philippines being the most religious among ISSP countries.

However, that was as of 2008, when there were no predominantly Muslim nations in ISSP yet. Since then, Turkey has joined ISSP, and tells us that Turks outdo Filipinos in religiosity. Perhaps Palestinians are the same!  (Since the Philippines is still ISSP’s only Asean member, there are no data yet for Indonesian Muslims, Malaysian Muslims, or Thai Buddhists.)

On Sunday evening I attended my first meeting of the standing committee, ISSP’s governing body, which consists of the secretariat (Israel) and elected-members United States, Norway, and Sweden.  The Philippines was elected last year to serve during 2012-2015.

On Monday, the general assembly voted to affirm the standing committee’s recommendation to admit an Indian private research company as a new member representing India, after it had agreed to modify its sampling procedures to meet the requirements of the ISSP methodological committee.

Then the general assembly carefully reviewed the second draft of the questionnaire for the ISSP survey on National Identity, set for 2013.  This survey will examine geographic closeness, national pride and shame, relations with other countries, ethnic minorities, immigrants, patriotism, and regional associations. It will have 51 items replicated from 2003, to allow analysis over time, plus nine new items, for a total module of 60 required items; there will also be six optional items.  Every questionnaire item, whether required or optional, needs majority approval of the general assembly, on a one-country-one-vote basis.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we discussed the first draft of the ISSP module for 2014, which will be on Citizenship. To guide the drafting group, a vote was taken on inclusion of subtopics, with the following results: rights and obligations of citizenship 28, participation 25, trust and efficacy 25, social citizenship 17, satisfaction with democracy 16, evaluation of institutions 14, media consumption 10, corporate citizenship 8, and global citizenship 7.


On Wednesday, the assembly voted for Work Orientations to be the survey topic for 2015. It was last replicated in 2005, so there will be a 10-year span between rounds. The members chosen by vote to constitute the questionnaire drafting group, in alphabetical order, were: Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Israel (the 2005 convenor), South Korea, and Venezuela.

Then the assembly voted to fill vacancies in the methodology committee created by the expiration of the (four-year) terms of Germany and China.  With voting done one vacancy at a time, the former German seat was given to Great Britain, and the former Chinese seat was given to Germany.

The assembly then voted to fill a vacancy in the next standing committee due to the expiration of the term of Sweden.  The winner was Croatia.

Since the three-year term of Israel as secretariat was expiring, the Israeli delegation left the meeting room while the group discussed what to do next. With Norway, the previous secretariat, temporarily in the chair, Israel was renominated and unanimously chosen to serve for a (maximum) second term.

The next annual meeting will be held in Santiago, Chile, from April 28 to May 1, 2013.  After that will be the 2014 meeting in Tampere, Finland. So we hope to mix our work with a little tourism again; why not?

In the meantime, SWS plans to do the ISSP 2012 survey on Family, Work and Gender this September, and send it to the central archive by May 2013.

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Contact SWS: www.sws.org.ph or [email protected]

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TAGS: Croatia, International Social Survey Program, ISSP, Mahar Mangahas, opinion, Social Climate, Surveyors, travel
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