The Cases of the European Values Study and the European Social Survey – European Constellations of Social Science Knowledge Production

Kristoffer Kropp


This paper analyses two European social science surveys in a comparative perspective. Some twenty years apart, two groups of scholars launched two European social surveys. In 1981, the first round of the European Values Study (EVS) took place and twenty years later, in 2001, the first round of the European Social Survey (ESS) was launched. From the outset, both surveys were closely connected to national and European social scientific institutions, had ties to the EU and used the most sophisticated survey techniques of their time to address urgent contemporary political and social problems.  However, only the ESS has managed to exploit these connections to European political institutions in order to obtain symbolic and monetary resources. The article argues that, in order to explain the trajectory of two social surveys, we need to understand not only the scientific and organizational properties of the two surveys, but just as importantly the constellation of the European field of research policy and the field of social science in Europe. In the twenty years separating the EVS and the ESS, social sciences and not least classical issues like social cohesion and political participation had become a part of issues funded through the EU research policies. In this way, the paper shows that success of social scientific projects are not only a result of the intrinsic qualities of the projects, but need to be understood in relation to and as a consequence of how it relates to of the social institutions and uses opening offers by changes in the settlement.

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