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Incomparable gains: Conducting survey research in South Africa in national and cross-national perspective

21.2. 2019, 10:30 Uhr

Mannheim, B2,8 (rechts)

Dr. Benjamin Roberts


Prior to the 1970s, representative survey research on socio-political issues in South Africa was virtually non-existent. Only a handful of empirical studies attempted interviewing to capture the views of black South Africans (Schlemmer, 1990). During the late 1970s and 1980s, appreciable efforts were undertaken to remedy the skewed nature of social attitudes research. In the quarter century since the transition to democracy in 1994, there has been an impressive proliferation of survey research, including the development of routine national and regional series as well as regular participation in and collaboration with global infrastructures. As a heterogeneous, multicultural society, endeavours to collect rigorous, functionally equivalent data aimed at monitoring underlying value change brings the promise of new insight and understanding, but also appreciable challenges.

Set against growing interest and advances in relation to multinational, multiregional, and multicultural (3MC) survey research, this seminar will firstly reflect on some of the survey research process issues that inevitably confront the social scientist in the South African case. This will provide an account of the substantive gains that have been made since the end of apartheid, as well as the practical, field-related difficulties that tend to arise. This will lead into a discussion on the experiences and lessons that can be distilled from nearly 20 years of South African participation in the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), as well as more recent engagement with the European Social Survey (ESS) and International Wellbeing Group (IWbG).

In this talk, I present the results of these two research projects on smartphone-only time use research. The talk will focus on what we have learned, what research remains to be done, and what the potential is for smartphone-only time use research.

About the Speaker

Dr. Benjamin Roberts is a Chief Research Specialist in the Democracy, Governance & Service Delivery (DGSD) research programme at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), South Africa. He has coordinated the South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS), a nationally representative and annually-conducted social survey series, since its establishment in 2003. He also jointly manages the HSRC’s electoral survey series on behalf of the Electoral Commission of South Africa since 2010. He received his PhD in Social Policy from Rhodes University, his MSc in Development Studies from the University of Natal (RSA), and BSc in Town and Regional Planning from the University of the Witwatersrand.