Session 5

SMUSI_05- Comparing Social Survey Data Collected During a Global Crisis? The Uncertainty of Comparative Research

It has been more than two years since the start of the global Covid-19 pandemic. The resulting challenges had a far larger reach than just public health, instigating a large number of political, economic and social changes. It affected most individuals around the globe in a very direct way. In such situations, social surveys become an essential tool to understand the constitution of societies and how citizens around the globe deal with the pressure of such rapid change. The particular nature of the Covid-19 crisis posed a unique challenge for survey research: Traditionally established procedures and methods for survey preparation (e.g. design of the questionnaire, establishing sampling frames), data collection (e.g. household surveys based on registers via F2F-interviews), and harmonization of data to be comparable (e.g. between regions or particular infection dynamics when data was collected) proved to be upended by the fact that the pandemic influenced the social situations very quickly, made personal contacts nearly impossible and changed the timeline for long planned survey research projects like e.g. global projects such as the ISSP, or other specific survey programs in major world regions. And as the pandemic continued for a prolonged time, several programs decided to switch survey modes or use short windows of opportunity to collect data. In short: The pandemic once again pushed questions of comparability to the foreground of the methodological discussion. Based on these changes in the global survey infrastructure, we are looking for contributions that address, e.g. (a) how research teams and researchers made sure that the data they collected during the pandemic can be contextualized, (b) compared and included in a long standing series of survey programs as well as (c) how they made sure that high quality data was produced. Additionally, we are interested in a wide range of topics that discuss on a theoretical, empirical or case study-based approach how data collected during the crisis should be treated with caution, compared with surveys in pre-pandemic times and used in a broader context. With the session, we aim to further provoke a discussion on how empirical sociology – and social sciences at large – can move forward and include the magnitude of survey data that was generated during the crisis into existing data catalogues and project series.