Syndicate content

Regression

Media research and boring questions: What do global surveys miss?

Sonia Jawaid Shaikh's picture

In the past decade, much effort and attention has gone into media (including traditional types and digital technologies) research because the media are considered pivotal for social change and fundamental to human rights. Although several approaches exist to conduct media research; many researchers and policy makers use findings from publicly available survey data to conduct analyses, evaluate and make predictions. This data is often generated by large national or global (often wave-based) surveys that use random sampling techniques to interview respondents.

Given that the media and its effects generate so much interest, you would think that interesting and thought-provoking questions would be asked on media usage and user perceptions in these surveys. Surprisingly, that is not the case. Questions that tap into versatility, scope, ideas, usage and media perceptions in global survey research are quite uncommon. Interestingly, many surveys actually only incorporate items regarding media sources and usage frequencies alone.

Consider two primary sources of global attitudes and values research involving several countries: World Values Survey (WVS) and Afrobarometer.

Questioning the External Validity of Regression Estimates: Why they can be less representative than you think.

David McKenzie's picture
A common critique of many impact evaluations, including those using both experimental and quasi-experimental methods, is that of external validity – how well do findings from one setting export to another? This is especially the case for studies done on relatively small samples, although as I have ranted before, there appears to be a double standard in this critique when compared to both other disciplines in economics and to other development literature.

Phil Howard on Information Technology and Political Islam

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Last week I went to listen to a talk by Philip Howard of the University of Washington. He spoke about the "Digital Origins of Democracy: Information Technology and Political Islam." The story was mainly the one we keep hearing about ICT and the Arab Spring, although Howard cautioned that ICT don't actually topple dictators, they rather catch dictators off-guard. And while ICT don't cause political change per se, they provide "capabilities and impose new constraints."

Howard went on to show a table of Arab countries with a few characteristics that may or may not be helpful in predicting future civic unrest. The variables in the table were: country, years of ruler in power, approximate proportion of people connected through ICT, average age of the population, and next elections. This kind of collection of variables is seductive because it seems so easy to use them to predict civic uprisings in the Arab World.