European Social Survey round (ESS) is an attitude and behavioural survey in more than 30 European countries, including Sweden.
Two to three thousand individuals per country are interviewed about their attitudes towards, for example, immigration, democracy, equality, media and medicine use, participation in the civil society, trust, health, networks and psychological predispositions. The survey consists of two parts. One fixed part that is replicated in every survey and one rotating part that change across surveys. This set up enables us to measure changes over time as well as topics of immediate interest. ESS is not only for researchers but also for politicians, journalists, students and the general public. ESS is a totally transparent project in that everything is made public and can be used free of charge for everyone. Data can be downloaded from the ESS home page or can be analyzed directly on the web. Mikael Hjerm is responsible for the Swedish participation in ESS.
ESS is an attitude and behavioural survey that has been undertaken three times in more than 30 European countries, including Sweden. Two to three thousand individuals per country are interviewed about their attitudes towards, for example, immigration, democracy, equality, media and medicine use, participation in the civil society, trust, health, networks and psychological predispositions.
The importance of understanding people’s attitudes, values and behaviour has become increasingly important in order to be able to understand contemporary society in a time of political and societal change. ESS has in five years time been established as the most important and reliable source of information concerning attitudes, values and behaviour for scientists, mass media, political decision makers and analysts. Factors like the range and quality of the examined topics, the solid guarantee of quality, standardisation, documentation, the swift production of data and, not the least, the general access to data has contributed to the success of ESS.
ESS has three overarching scientific goals:
First, to enable comparison of key indicators within and across countries in a valid way combined with the examination of current attitudes and preferences. The aim is to produce the objectively best survey data combined with a never before seen content multiplicity. A proof of success is that ESS has, as the only social science project ever, been awarded the prestigious Descartes prize for scientific excellence.
Second, to be able to measure changes in social phenomena. The majority of the questions are therefore repeated in every round of ESS. Many changes in attitudes and behaviour take a long time, which means that we have not yet witnessed the full significance of ESS for our understanding of social change.
The third goal is to create sustainable social indicators that can be used to describe the state of things across time and countries. Indicators that deal with, for example, equality, crime and happiness are constructed to work complimentary with established economic measures like GDP. These indicators can be used by researchers, politicians and analysts to compare countries and regions or groups of individuals in an established way.
ESS is not aimed only at the research community, but also towards mass media, politicians, decision makers, analysts and the educated mass. ESS is an altruistic project in that data is free for everyone to use without cost. Moreover, ESS provides via NESSTAR the possibility to make calculations and simulations directly on the web without having to download the dataset. The common infrastructure is financed by the European Commission within its framework for infrastructure and by the European Science Foundation. The data collection in each country is financed by the national research councils.