The main event of the year in the field of applied sociology will take place 16-17!
The “Russian Public Opinion Research Center” Foundation (“WCIOM” Foundation) and the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation (RANEPA) are proud to announce the Sixth Grushin Conference, which will take place in Moscow in 2016 on March 16-17.
The main theme of 2016 conference is: The life of the research after the research: How to make the results comprehensible and useful?
How often do research practitioners wonder, how the results of their research are used (or if they are used at all)? Recently, there have been more instances when research products have been consumed in an imitational (ritualistic) way. A lot of the points that are considered crucial by researchers are left unused. Sometimes the language of the product turns out to be incomprehensible to the client, sometimes the lack of proper visualization (infographics) makes the product boring, sometimes its design is utterly unattractive, and sometimes the researchers themselves do not have enough time or patience to explain everything during their immediate contact with the client (the presentation). By avoiding the discussion of the actual consumption and usage of their products, researchers may be ignoring the most important moment of their work: the moment when a future order and a future research may be born or die.
In many developed areas of industrial production of intellectual (informational) products the questions of post-production (packaging, “voicing”, optimal delivery, product presentation), as well as the questions of after-sales, have become as important as the questions of production itself, and require as much expense (and sometimes, even more) as does the production.
How is research really consumed, processed and used? What needs to be done to make it consumable and be really useful? How does one make their research product smart and comprehensible at the same time, interesting, but not vulgar, attractive, but not provocative? What are the new methods of intellectual “packaging” of research products? With which “subcontractors” and how should the researchers establish relationships to make the delivery of their product more optimal and comfortable to the client? We propose these and related questions as the main theme of the Sixth Grushin Conference.
Naturally, the traditional questions of new research methods and mastering the relevant subject areas will still be discussed within the framework of the conference.
This science and applied research conference is oriented at collective discussion of relevant methodological and conceptual problems of applied sociology by a circle of sociology practitioners, who are actively developing and implementing new methods of gathering, processing and analyzing the information, as well as the recipients of sociological information – the social managers – who represent government bodies, political parties, non-governmental organizations, mass-media, commercial business structures etc.
Traditionally, the conference bears the name of a notable Russian sociologist Boris Andreevich Grushin (1929-2007), who was one of the first to conduct public opinion polls in the USSR, and who created the first all-soviet polling network, which provided the foundation for the networks of WCIOM and the majority of currently active polling centers in Russia and ex-Soviet countries.
The conference will feature a plenary session, thematic sections, roundtables, a series of workshops and presentations, which will allow the participants to present the results of their research and discuss relevant problems of sociology in Russia.
PRELIMINARY schedule of the conference (additions, reductions or other changes are):
- I. PLENARY SESSION «The life of the research after the research. How to make the research product useful and usable?». Reports by directors of leading research companies: V. Fedorov (WCIOM), A. Oslon (FOM), A. Demidov (GfK Russia), a representative of RANEPA.
- II. MAIN THEME EVENTS "THE LIFE OF THE RESEARCH AFTER THE RESEARCH. POST PRODUCTION IN APPLIED SOCIOLOGY»
- 2.1. Round table «How is research really consumed, processed and used? Clients about contractors, contractors about clients»
- 2.2. Section "Effective packaging of the research product. Collaboration of researchers with specialists in adjacent fields: PR-managers, designers, political consultants, business consultants" (FOM, L. Pautova)
One of the current trends in research industry is the collaboration with adjacent industries, complex projects, diversification of research business. It is brought about by many factors: a decline in the reputation of research expertise, synergy of competencies, clients' interest in full-cycle ad-hoc research (from diagnosis of social problems to managerial decisions and PR effect). It is apparent that sociologists need criticism from specialists in adjacent fields in order to capture and keep their clients, accomplish high profile tasks and reach new goals.
How adequate are research products to the interests of clients and new demands from the market? Is sociological product necessary when working with a customer? With a super customer? What problems arise when customers/allied specialists work with research products? What needs to be changed in order to make the researchers more comprehensible, relevant, appealing to customers/allied specialists? In what direction should these changes go and how? What should the researchers do: integrate with allied specialists during different stages of the cycle, change the whole cycle of research on their own, expand their competencies and business area?
- 2.3. Section «Forms of interaction between sociology and the media: from Grushin to convergent research» (HSE, S. Davidov)
There is a long and complicated history of interaction between sociology and the media. Traditionally, the media act as clients, circulators and interpreters of research information. They also frequently act as producers of sociological data; and it is not just the "straw polls", but, in some cases, very professional projects that have both applied and scientific value. In this context it is appropriate to mention the successful job done in the 1960s by the "Institute of Public Opinion" which was founded as a department of the "Komsomolskaya Pravda" newspaper by B. A. Grushin.
The title of this section contains a reference to the theory of media convergence, proposed by American philosopher and culturologist H. Jenkins. In modern digital environment we see not only the convergence of different types of media, but convergence of the media with other forms of informational activities, including research. That includes not only hybrid types of activities that are impossible outside the digital environment, new spheres like data journalism, but also transformations of practices of interaction between traditional media and research companies. This section is dedicated to the reflection upon this process in modern Russia.
- 2.4. Section «Researching the research market. Shoemakers well shod» (Association 7/89, S. Procenko)
Research market is changing rapidly. Economic situation and technological changes introduce the danger of "disappearance of the market" for a number of companies in the industry. Under these circumstances "shoes for the shoemakers" become especially relevant and demanded. The goal of this section is to present the results of the industry research, and through that capture the condition and key problems of modern-day research market, define new challenges and discuss ways to solve relevant problems.
- III. TOPICAL EVENTS: «WHAT DOES SOCIOLOGY KNOW»
- 3.1. Section «Sociology and authority», constant partner section of the conference.
Session 1 «Sociology and authority – a movement towards productive partnership» (WCIOM, S. Lvov, K.Rodin).
We observe how sociological information gets new stimuli to develop as a resource for managerial activity. This is conditioned by an increased demand in diverse information for decision making – in spheres from public policy to municipal administration, from anti-crisis measures to demography, from Crimea to the Far East…The "offer" made by sociologists and public opinion researchers also develops: today's mainstream is a principally new level of relationship between sociologists and authorities, in which life itself dictates the necessity of partnership, mutual respect and intellectual enrichment.
During the course of this section we will take a look at various cases when various governmental bodies used the results of sociological research in the process of making economic, political and other administrative decisions: from the birth of an idea to consultancy interactions.
Session 2 «Sociological support of strategic government planning. 2030» (RANEPA, Kalmikov)
The Strategy is an instrument of long-term planning of socioeconomic development up to 2030; it defines a long-term goal, strategic and priority areas and objectives, main mechanisms of achieving results and respective targets. Monitoring, assessment and control are crucial to the most effective realization of the Strategy and coordination of the Strategy and medium-term plans dedicated to its implementation.
The best practices of support as well as new proposals concerning the methodology and methods of sociological support of strategic planning will be presented at this event.
- 3.2. Section «Public consciousness as an instrument for overcoming the crisis» (WCIOM, O. Chernozub)
The economic crisis continues to develop according to its "economic" laws. However, since the time of J. Keynes we know that economic patterns are not implemented "automatically", but only as they are interpreted by economic agents. This raises the question: how does the public consciousness of our country interpret the crisis? The current state of public consciousness – does it help overcome the crisis, or interferes with this process? WCIOM studies have shown that between the crisis itself and its perception by public consciousness there is a discrepancy, which may grow or decrease at different times. How big and dangerous is it at the moment? Which public consensus should we aim to reach in order to overcome the crisis in the shortest possible period of time with minimum losses?
- 3.3. Section «Justice: how it is understood and realized in modern Russia» (RUPSA Research Committee and RSS «Political Sociology», V. Rimsky). Constant partner section of the conference.
Sociological studies show that the demand for justice in Russian society and government is common for almost every social group. At the same time, a lot of our citizens view the possibility of realization of justice in Russia in current conditions pessimistically. Furthermore, they do not hope for justice during the period of time for which they can make a forecast concerning the situation in the country. They are more likely to perceive the degree of justice in our country as declining, not increasing. Justice remains more of a dream for our citizens than an actual goal of their activity which can be aimed at and achieved.
How important is justice for the Russian sociocultural model? How high is the demand for justice in Russian society? What are the perceptions of justice among our citizens and how do they differ among social groups? What role is given to the government in the process of realization of justice, and to what extent does it match this role? These and other questions related to perceptions of justice and social practices of its realization will be discussed over the course of the section.
- 3.4. Section «Sociology of the Internet». Constant partner section of the conference. (Center for New Media and Society, SBG, Klimov). This year's theme: «Forming the standards for Internet-based research: methodological, technical and ethical restrictions and considerations»
Nowadays Internet research and Internet-based research are becoming a bigger part of sociologists' work.
We invite researchers and professional teams to discuss various questions concerning the methods of Internet research, expertise, professional ethics and its connection with methodology, as well as other questions related to the development of professional collaboration in this field of research.
- 3.5. Section «Sociology of international relations» (Eurasian Monitor, I. Zadorin). Constant partner section of the conference. This year's topic: «A Russian man in a global world: "Stranger and stranger"» (Perception of other countries by Russian citizens; relationships of friendship, collaboration, rivalry and enmity)»
This year traditional partner section of "Eurasian monitor" at the Grushin Conference will be dedicated to the topics of the Russians' perception of other countries (especially ex-Soviet), the mechanisms and factors that influence the process of forming the relations of friendship-collaboration and rivalry-enmity, methods of assessing foreign policy orientations of the Russians (and citizens of neighboring countries).This section will feature both the presentation of public opinion research results that were collected in the monitoring mode over a long historical period (1990-2015), and the results of the ad hoc researches of recent years that were dedicated to recent international events.
- 3.6. Section «Sociology of aging» (FOM, L. Presniakova). Constant partner section of the conference. This year's topic: «Retirement age: how and where should we move the border?».
The government is facing a serious problem of raising the retirement age. Economic and demographic factors call for this measure, but the political decision is being postponed due to concerns of social dissatisfaction. However, as the polls show, future Russian pensioners mostly intend to continue working after reaching the current retirement age. Key motive of this intention is the hope to receive both the pension and the salary. Furthermore, people would prefer an increase of insurance premiums than a raise of retirement age. This measure seems more unjust than unjustified or irrational. What can the reaction of our society be?
- 3.7. Section «Sociology of civil society and non-commercial sector» (FOM , Е. Petrenko, Е.Topoleva). Constant partner section of the conference
Civil society is a complex object of research and can be analyzed from different standpoints: sociological, political, economic, legal, historical etc. Sociology, which focuses on social activity, values and interest, needs and forms of their institutionalization, sociostructural characteristics of the society and their dynamics, has an unquestionable prerogative.
Studies of civil society aim to provide an insight into various manifestations of active solidarity, and forms of self-organization of civic activity that are based on it. At the same time, different techniques highlight different "edges" of the phenomenon. The discussion of this section focuses on methodology and techniques of studying civil society.
- IV. SERIES OF EVENTS «FLOURISHING DIVERSITY OF METHODS»
- 4.1. Section «Shaken not stirred: combining methods to increase accuracy. Telephoners vs. householders» (WCIOM, J.Baskakova; FOM, T.Osmanov)
A common theme in discussions concerning the quality of research data is attainability. Remote districts, code locks, concierges, people being at work – a lot of different factors significantly restrict our ability to conduct personal interviews. On the other hand, almost every Russian has a cell-phone (one and a half on average), and the Internet population keeps growing – it includes half the country, three fourths of the population of big cities, and the entirety of the youth. It is logical to use new technologies to expand the foundations of the sample and include the most economically active and technologically advanced people, who are rarely present when we try to contact them at home, and who are so hard to convince to spend half an hour to talk to an interviewer.
This obvious theme immediately introduces a lot of methodological challenges: how does one construct samples, how does one take into account the communication effect, how does one pool the data… Nevertheless, the search for the best survey methods that would allow covering every group within the population and lowering the cost motivates us to look for new options. We invite our colleagues to share their experience of combining the survey methods.
- 4.2. Section «Methodic audit of field work» (RANEPA, D.Rogozin)
Until recently the quality of surveys has been evaluated only form the standpoint of controlling the interviewers and ensuring that they follow the instructions precisely. In recent years, we have come to the understanding that rigid standardization and reduction of interviewers to an automated de-personalized subject lead to a decline in survey quality, an increase in number of fabrications and blurring of ethical norms. Methodic procedures of registration and monitoring the errors of measurement and representation are replacing rigid instructions, followed by the adjustments of the results received.
The main frame for this type of activity is set by methodic audit of field work – a research activity that has three main tasks. The first is the analysis of the quality of a given poll and outlining the restrictions imposed on the interpretation of the data received. The second is the development of methodological axiomatics of the polling craft, elaboration and correction of mass polling methodology. The third is the enrichment of the data received over the course of the initial poll, which is achieved through collecting and processing additional information.
- 4.3. Section «Surveying via mobile devices: methodological challenges and opportunities» (OMI, A.Shaskin; NRU-HSE, A.Mavletova)
More and more people use mobile devices, including those with access to the Internet. The new opportunities opened by this fact are used both by market researchers and by governmental statistical offices for conducting censuses. For example, the Federal State Statistics Service first started collecting the data via tablet-assisted surveys in 2015.
Within the framework of this section we propose a discussion of methodological challenges and new opportunities of using mobile technologies to collect the data on the population that can be used in market research and representative population surveys. We will discuss both the traditional ways of using mobile devices in phone polls, and the innovative ways of using these devices in web surveys and location-based surveys. In addition, we will discuss the possibilities of using mobile devices in ethnographic studies, market research online communities (MROC) and online focus-groups.
- 4.4. Section «Big Data Challenge. Behavior registration vs polling declarations» (GfK, Kutlaliev)
Big data is one of the most frequent terms mentioned in relation to the innovations in the field of social studies. However, as it often happens to new terms, its meaning is quite blurry, and everyone is interpreting it in the way they see fit.
On one hand, the problem of big data has always been present, as it is most commonly impossible to analyze the volume of information we receive over the course of our research. According to some estimates, only 5% of the information is extracted from the database of social research. On the other hand, in recent years we have seen an explosion in the volume of the information which becomes cheaper and more accessible to analysis than the information that is acquired through traditional data collection techniques. Existing methods of data analysis are unable to process datasets that are tens and hundreds of terabytes in size. Moreover, they are often unable to work with unstructured information, which makes up a significant portion of these datasets.
- 4.5. Section «Independent assessment of the quality of state services: methodical approaches and organizational decisions» (ISESP RAS – WCIOM, E.Mikhailova)
The implementation of standards of quality assessment of state services in such spheres as healthcare, social security, education, culture – is an important condition of a successful realization of the government's policy in social sphere. The system of independent, objective control of the activities of governmental bodies is currently at the stage of development. Despite the fact that control measurements are already carried out in some regions, the methods of IQA that are employed by organizations that provide state services need to be improved.
The task of creating a rating system for these organizations, which would allow the end-users to choose the establishments according to a set of parameters, is essential. Despite the fact that there have been efforts in that direction, using ratings of social service organizations as an effective instrument for increasing the quality of their work will be possible only if the population displays trust towards the methods, criteria and indicators used in this process.
- 4.6. Section «Sociological monitoring of the state of interethnic relations: from methodology to evaluation and social» (FANA-WCIOM, S.Haikin)
A system of clear indicators that allows to measure the state of interethnic relations and forecast the possibilities of social conflicts instigated by discrimination of ethnic groups or interethnic or interconfessional enmity, needs to be developed in order to achieve successful realization of Russia's National Policy Strategy and accomplish the goals and objectives in the fields of harmonization of interethnic relations and strengthening civilian unity. Developing an effective system of interethnic relations monitoring is a formidable challenge for researchers. Collecting and systematizing the information concerning the best practices, indicators employed by different research groups to assess the state of interethnic relations – is an important condition of creating an adequate instrument that is capable of becoming a foundation for operative decision making in the sphere of realization of National Policy.
- V. SERIES OF EVENTS «PROFESSIONAL SOCIOLOGICAL COMMUNITY: ANSWERING THE CHALLENGES OF TODAY»
- 5.1. Round table «Professional standard «Specialist in the field of sociological and market research»: assessments from representatives of labor market and universities» (Working group dedicated to developing professional standards, HSE; K.Abramov, A.Chepurenko)
An active discussion that took place during the previous Grushin conference led the creation of a working group, which included representatives of leading employers and universities and was dedicated to preparing a project of a professional standard. Over the course of the past year the work has been nearly finished, but still there remain questions which the developers would like to discuss with the professional community before submitting the document to the Ministry of Labor.
We invite members of the working group, representatives of the sociological and market research industry, members of the EMA of sociology and social work, university sociologists.
- 5.2. Round table «Extreme sociology: science, art… taboo?»
- VI. SERIES OF WORKSHOPS. Workshops and special reports by leading Russian and foreign academics and practitioners.
- 6.1. Workshop by Apostolis Papakostas (Sweden), presentation of his book « Civilizing the Public Sphere: Distrust, Trust and Corruption»
6.2. Workshop (currently in progress)
- VII. STAND REPORTS
- List currently in progress