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Web Survey Bibliography

Title What Does the Satisfaction with Democracy Measure Mean to Respondents in Different Countries? How Cross-National Web Probing Can Contribute to Answering this Question
Year 2014
Access date 08.09.2014
The item measuring satisfaction with democracy is a core item in (comparative) political research. However, what exactly it measures is a bone of contention among researchers (Anderson, 2002; Canache, Mondak, & Seligson, 2001; Linde & Ekman, 2003). Does it measure satisfaction with incumbent authorities, with the political system in general, or is it in fact a summary indicator of political support? Moreover, how comparable is the measurement across countries in cross-national survey research? To shed light on the measurement dimensions in a cross-national perspective, we conducted cross-national web probing: In October 2011, we fielded web surveys in Denmark, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Spain, and the U.S. About 250 respondents in each country first answered the closed satisfaction item (“And on the whole, how satisfied are you with the way democracy works in [country]?” using an 11-point-scale ranging from “extremely dissatisfied” to “extremely satisfied”). They then answered an open-ended category-selection probe asking for a reason for having chosen a particular scale value. The respondents were recruited from non-representative online panels according to sociodemographic quota. Results of the closed democracy item were compared to benchmark surveys to ensure that we were working with a reasonable response distribution. A coding scheme was developed and the answers were coded accordingly. In all countries, satisfaction with policy outcomes, incumbent authorities, and the functioning of the system in general was simultaneously measured by the item, but to different degrees across the different countries. The paper will present in detail the interpretation patterns across countries. While the results can provide a basis for further discussion among political scientists, they also allow presenting the usefulness of web probing to learn more about what we actually measure, both in national and in cross-national contexts.
Year of publication2014
Bibliographic typeConferences, workshops, tutorials, presentations