Survey Methodology is becoming a more structured field of research, deserving of more and more academic attention. The SAGE Handbook of Survey Methodology explores both the increasingly scientific endeavour of surveys and their growing complexity, as different data collection modes and information sources are combined. The handbook takes a global approach, with a team of international experts looking at local and national specificities, as well as problems of cross-national, comparative survey research. The chapters are organized into seven major sections, each of which represents a stage in the survey life-cycle: Surveys and Societies Planning a Survey Measurement Sampling Data Collection Preparing Data for Use Assessing and Improving Data Quality The SAGE Handbook of Survey Methodology is a landmark and essential tool for any scholar within the social sciences.

Chapter 20: When Translation is not Enough: Background Variables in Comparative Surveys1

When Translation is not Enough: Background Variables in Comparative Surveys1

Silke L. Schneider Dominique Joye Christof Wolf


Background or socio-demographic variables like age, education, or occupation are often referred to as ‘objective variables', reflecting ‘hard facts'. Under this assumption, the measurement of these variables should not pose any difficulties in comparative perspective. Of course, it is true that, for example, age can be measured in years, days, or even seconds. However, we are not ‘young’ or ‘old’ at the same ‘age’ in different societies.

It is therefore important to realize that those constructs and measures, even if they seem to reflect ‘natural’ or ‘objective’ states, are always socially constructed and consequently are ...

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