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Abstract

Universal surveys—such as the World Values Survey—seek to promote generalizability across contexts. But what if two different cultures interpret and respond to a general question in two different ways (e.g., King et al. 2004)? Using this methodological conundrum as a starting point, over the past year I have a led a research team of four faculty and twelve students—drawn from Northwestern University in Qatar, Qatar University, and Georgetown University in Qatar—in creating, translating, and analyzing a context-sensitive survey of the Qatari population, funded through a Qatar National Research Fund UREP (Undergraduate Research Experience Program) grant. The survey was conducted by Qatar University's Social and Economic Survey Research Institute (SESRI) from January 15 to February 3 for a total of 798 Qatari respondents, making it a professional and valuable addition to the literature. Further, we were able to insert many questions that had never previously been asked of the population, including ones spanning the relative importance of tradition versus modern symbolism, specific opinions on the national education reforms, personal versus state priorities, satisfaction with particular welfare benefits offered by the state, and measures of religiosity. Both the process of creating a contextualized survey for the Qatari population—including what could and could not be asked, and how sensitive concepts were translated—as well as the fascinating results, which have opened up new avenues of research into the sociopolitical transformations of the Qatari people, are well worth presenting to the community and receiving feedback. Even more importantly, the insights gained from how we contextualized the survey can be applied to improve the current state of social science survey research in Qatar. The explosion of survey research in Qatar—pioneered by the Qatar Statistics Authority and Qatar University's SESRI, and recently joined by the multinational surveys of the World Values Survey, Harris Polling, Zogby's, and the Arab Barometer—demonstrates the need for questions that are contextually and culturally sensitive and ensure full understanding of the Qatari population. The ability to present my work to the Qatar Foundation Annual Research Conference will provide valuable feedback and networking opportunities with likeminded professionals, researchers, and community members in my quest to continue this collaborate and important research effort. Citation: King, Gary, Christopher Murray, Joshua Salomon, and Ajay Tandon. 2004. “Enhancing the Validity and Cross-Cultural Comparability of Measurement in Survey Research.” American Political Science Review 98 (1): 191-207.

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/content/papers/10.5339/qfarf.2013.SSHP-010
2013-11-20
2020-11-30
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