This website has been developed and is being maintained on behalf of ESFRI by the StR-ESFRI project which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement n° 654213
A cross-national survey to assemble, interpret and disseminate data on social attitudes and behaviours
The European Social Survey (ESS) is an academically driven cross-national survey that has been conducted across Europe since its establishment in 2001. Every two years, face-to-face interviews are conducted with newly selected, cross-sectional samples. The ESS RI assembles, interprets and disseminates data on social attitudes and behaviours that are gathered in each of the participating countries. It responds to the academic, public policy and societal needs to understand social stability and change within the European context. The topics of the ESS include: citizen involvement and democracy, family and working life, personal and social wellbeing, attitudes to and experiences of ageism as well as trust in institutions. The survey allows for new topics to be introduced over time via an open academically-led competition.
The ESS was established as European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) in November 2013. Currently, 21 countries are Members, there is 1 Observer country and 2 Guest countries.
The European Social Survey ERIC organises data that are gathered in each of the participating countries in accordance with specifications issued by the Director of the ESS ERIC. The main aims of the ESS include: i) to chart stability and change in social structure, conditions and attitudes in Europe and to interpret how Europe’s social, political and moral fabric is changing; ii) to achieve and spread higher standards of rigour in cross-national research in the social sciences, including for example, questionnaire design and pre-testing, sampling, data collection, reduction of bias and the reliability of questions; iii) to introduce soundly-based indicators of national progress, based on citizens’ perceptions and judgements of key aspects of their societies; iv) to undertake and facilitate the training of European social researchers in comparative quantitative measurement and analysis; v) to improve the visibility and outreach of data on social change among academics, policy makers and the wider public.
In 2011, ESS launched a new series of ESS Topline Results, which are concise cross-national summaries of particular topics covered in the questionnaire. Topline publications are written by the groups of academics whose rotating module was selected for the ESS. Issue 1 in the series focuses on justice findings using data from Round 5 of the survey. Issue 2 focuses on welfare attitudes in Europe using data from Round 4 of the survey. Issue 3 focuses on the economic crisis, quality of work and social integration using data from Rounds 2 and 5 of the ESS, gathered either side of the economic downturn. Issue 4 focuses on Europeans’ understandings and evaluations of democracy using data from Round 6 of the ESS and issue 5 looked at personal and social wellbeing based on Round 6 data. Issue 6 was published using Round 7 data gathered from the rotating module on health inequalities. Issue 7 uses ESS data on immigration from Rounds 1 and 7.
New rounds launched more recently still need to be analysed. In Round 8 ESS investigated attitudes to Grand Challenges such as climate change and energy security and the future of the welfare state. Forthcoming topics in Round 9 include justice and fairness and the timing of life.
ESS is designed for use primarily by the academic community. However, the data itself and publications using the data which are produced by academics are also used to provide direct and contextual evidence across a range of non-academic bodies, both governmental and agencies. ESS has helped inform the work of other surveys in Europe in terms of methodology and questionnaire content including the European Quality of Life Survey, the European Values Survey and the International Social Survey Programme. ESS data and methodology are used in academic teaching in many countries.
In addition, the ESS has a programme of knowledge transfer directly with policy makers and has held seminars at the European Parliament, Italian parliament and OECD, European Commission amongst other locations. As part of ESS SUSTAIN (H2020 GA 676166) Technopolis was commissioned to carry out a wide-ranging impact study of ESS; the report (September 2017) is available via the ESS website (www.europeansocialsurvey.org).
City, University of London
London, United Kingdom