Faculté des sciences économiques et sociales

On the use of interview data for the microsimulation of ideological conflicts : an analysis of the political cleavages of the European left

Müller, Georg P.

(Working Papers SES ; 471)

There is an increasing number of interview projects like the European Values Study (EVS) or the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), which collect in many different countries internationally comparative interview data. Some of them even offer time series, which go back to the 1980ies. Unfortunately, these public datasets are generally not suitable for the analysis of political conflicts... Plus

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    Summary
    There is an increasing number of interview projects like the European Values Study (EVS) or the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), which collect in many different countries internationally comparative interview data. Some of them even offer time series, which go back to the 1980ies. Unfortunately, these public datasets are generally not suitable for the analysis of political conflicts and socio-cultural cleavages. Hence the present paper tackles the problem of extracting conflict data from such interview projects by means of a new microsimulation method: instead of analysing the original interviews by focusing on individuals, the paper proposes to look at the value-differences between randomly matched artificial pairs of respondents. These artificial dyadic data records are used to simulate virtual encounters of persons, who may have either the same or different opinions about a certain issue. In the first case there is harmony, in the second virtual conflict that can be statistically aggregated for all analysed dyads of persons. This way it becomes possible to measure the total amount of conflict of a group (i) with the rest of society, (ii) with a similar group in another country, and (iii) with a politically opposite group. The afore-mentioned methodology of simulated virtual conflicts is used in order to analyse the variation of the ideology of the political left in different European countries. Of special interest are conflicts about traditional left values like equality, social security, and state ownership of industry, which concern respondents, who are partisans of the left as well as those, who identify with a right party. On the basis of the already mentioned European Values Study, the analysis is performed for three typical countries with rather different left party traditions: Sweden, France, and the UK.