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The Histo­ry of the Project 
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The first mee­ting of inte­res­ted col­le­agues invi­ted to Ber­gen Novem­ber 28th to Decem­ber 1st 1991, was hos­ted by {Magne Ang­vik} and spon­so­red by The Nor­we­gi­an Rese­arch Coun­cil for Sci­ence and the Huma­ni­ties (NAVF) and {Ber­gen Col­lege of Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on}. 12 per­sons from 9 count­ries were pre­sent. The pro­ject idea was recei­ved with gre­at enthu­si­asm by all par­ti­ci­pan­ts, and the initia­tors were asked to deve­lop the pro­ject fur­ther, to app­ly for money and prepa­re a com­mon ques­ti­on­n­aire. To all the invol­ved per­sons it was very important to secu­re a suf­fi­ci­ent par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on from Eas­tern Euro­pe, and {László Kéri}, {Insti­tu­te for Poli­ti­cal Sci­ence of the Hun­ga­ri­an Aca­de­my of Sci­ence}, Buda­pest, was asked to take the respon­si­bi­li­ty for this task.

Sin­ce he was mana­ging the pro­ject, {Magne Ang­vik} got the respon­si­bi­li­ty for con­duc­ting the work of deve­lo­ping a com­mon ques­ti­on­n­aire for a plan­ned pre­test, and {Bodo von Bor­ries} was asked to take care of ana­ly­zing the results of this test. Fur­ther­mo­re, the initia­tors plan­ned to meet again about one year later.

The pre­test was arran­ged in spring 1992 invol­ving the fol­lo­wing 9 count­ries: Nor­way, Swe­den, Pol­and, Rus­sia, Hun­ga­ry, Ita­ly, France, Ger­ma­ny and Gre­at Bri­tain. 900 stu­dents, most of them atten­ding the 8th class, par­ti­ci­pa­ted. The preli­mi­na­ry results were pre­sen­ted by{ Bodo von Borrie}s at the second con­fe­rence of the pro­ject at Tis­vil­d­e­le­je near Copen­ha­gen Novem­ber 26th to 29th 1992, with {Vagn Oluf Niel­sen} as host. The con­fe­rence was spon­so­red by NAVF. At this mee­ting 12 per­sons from 10 count­ries par­ti­ci­pa­ted. The results of the pre­test were so encou­ra­ging that the mee­ting deci­ded to accom­plish a full sca­le inves­ti­ga­ti­on on natio­nal samples from some more count­ries in Euro­pe as soon as possible.

We were aiming at a con­fe­rence for all per­sons invol­ved appro­xi­m­ate­ly once a year, and the next con­fe­rence for the invol­ved per­sons in the pro­ject was held at Alc­sut­do­boz, Hun­ga­ry Octo­ber 21st to 24th, 1993.{ László Kéri} was our host, and at the mee­ting spon­so­red by The Hun­ga­ri­an Natio­nal Sci­en­ti­fic Rese­arch Fund (OTKA) 14 per­sons from 12 count­ries took part.

In 1994 our mee­ting for the per­sons invol­ved in the pro­ject was held at Suitia, Fin­land, from August 25th to 28th, with {Sirk­ka Aho­nen} as hos­tess. The mee­ting was spon­so­red by {The Natio­nal Board of Edu­ca­ti­on} in Fin­land, and atten­ded by 20 par­ti­ci­pan­ts from 15 countries.

Until 1994 the expan­si­on of the num­ber of par­ti­ci­pa­ting count­ries had been mode­ra­te. The next year the num­ber explo­ded, and at the con­fe­rence in 1995 in Bolzano/​Bozen in Ita­ly Octo­ber 5th to 8th, 34 par­ti­ci­pan­ts from 23 count­ries took part. The mee­ting was spon­so­red by the{ Kör­ber Foun­da­ti­on}, Ger­ma­ny, and {Franz Lan­tha­ler}, respon­si­ble for an inves­ti­ga­ti­on among bilin­gu­al stu­dents in South Tyrol, was our host.

As 1996 was going to be the year for plan­ning the first com­mon publi­ca­ti­on of the pro­ject, we were hoping to be able to arran­ge two con­fe­ren­ces, and we mana­ged to do so. The first one was held at Sde Boker, Isra­el, May 26th to 29th, part­ly spon­so­red by {Ben Guri­on Uni­ver­si­ty of the Negev}. With {Dan Bar-On} as our host. 30 per­sons from 22 count­ries were present.

Our second con­fe­rence in 1996 took place in Del­phi, Greece, Octo­ber 10th to 13th, part­ly spon­so­red by The Greek Minis­try of Cul­tu­re, with {Tha­lia Dragona}s and {Anna Fran­gou­da­ki} as our hos­tes­ses. 26 per­sons from 19 count­ries participated.

The­se details on the annu­al mee­tings are men­tio­ned abo­ve becau­se of the importance of the con­fe­ren­ces in our pro­ject. Demo­cra­cy and coope­ra­ti­on are two key words in the orga­ni­sa­ti­on of the pro­ject. To par­ti­ci­pa­te means a lot of extra work and bur­dens the per­sons invol­ved with a lot of respon­si­bi­li­ty. The­r­e­fo­re a body with all the per­sons invol­ved with open dis­cus­sions and demo­cra­tic decis­i­ons is very important as a forum whe­re one can influence the work. As the pro­ject has deve­lo­ped the par­ti­ci­pan­ts have been brought into the decis­i­on making as much as pos­si­ble. The mee­tings have the­r­e­fo­re func­tion­ed as a “gene­ral assem­bly” giving the par­ti­ci­pan­ts “owner­ship” to the pro­ject and giving the lea­ders of the group sug­ges­ti­ons and recom­men­da­ti­ons for future work. The ques­ti­on­n­aire has e.g. been dis­cus­sed at many mee­tings: Ever­yo­ne had the pos­si­bi­li­ty to pro­po­se and for­mu­la­te ques­ti­ons (some used this pos­si­bi­li­ty to a high ext­ent) and decis­i­ons con­cer­ning the con­tent of the ques­ti­on­n­aire were often taken through majo­ri­ty voting.

The­re is only a small full-time staff in the pro­ject, all at the Ana­ly­sing Cen­ter of the pro­ject at the {Uni­ver­si­ty of Ham­burg}, Ger­ma­ny. The cen­tral manage­ment of the pro­ject is loca­ted at {Ber­gen Col­lege of Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on}, Ber­gen, Nor­way, whe­re cand.polit. Bjørn Tafjord was enga­ged as assistant for one year in 1994/​95.

In each of the par­ti­ci­pa­ting count­ries a {Natio­nal Coor­di­na­tor} (NC) is respon­si­ble for the orga­ni­s­ing of all the neces­sa­ry work in that coun­try. The NCs repre­sent a varie­ty of sub­jects, such as histo­ry, edu­ca­ti­on, socio­lo­gy, psy­cho­lo­gy, sta­tis­tics etc., working at uni­ver­si­ties, col­leges of hig­her edu­ca­ti­on, inde­pen­dent rese­arch insti­tu­ti­ons, pol­ling insti­tu­ti­ons etc. Tog­e­ther we form a team with a varie­ty of com­pe­tence and expe­ri­ence, all repre­sen­ting only our­sel­ves and our per­so­nal opi­ni­ons not the govern­ment or some ideo­lo­gy or poli­ti­cal insti­tu­ti­on in our country.

It is one of the pecu­lia­ri­ties of this rese­arch-pro­ject and one of its strengths that the com­mu­ni­ty of rese­ar­chers was (and still is) quite hete­ro­ge­neous. We all have met in this pro­ject on the basis of a com­mon inte­rest coming not only from dif­fe­rent nati­ons and cul­tures, but also with dif­fe­rent disci­pli­nes and tra­di­ti­ons of rese­arch, edu­ca­ti­on and tea­ching. This situa­ti­on may crea­te dif­fi­cul­ties and pro­blems. Our dif­fe­rent per­spec­ti­ves con­sti­tu­te dif­fe­ring reasons for our par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on in the pro­ject: we will see dif­fe­rent pos­si­bi­li­ties in the data, and we will pre­sent our fin­dings in dif­fe­rent ways. A his­to­ri­an, being fami­li­ar to the her­me­neu­ti­cal approach and inter­pre­ta­ti­on, will give ano­ther type of descrip­ti­on than a social sci­en­tist, ope­ra­ting with quan­ti­ta­ti­ve methods and being used to inter­pre­ta­ti­on of and argu­men­ta­ti­on with sta­tis­ti­cal ana­ly­ses. This mix­tu­re of approa­ches can the­r­e­fo­re easi­ly be seen from this report.

Most of the par­ti­ci­pa­ting rese­ar­chers were main­ly working on their own or with only a small staff or some stu­dents hel­ping them. Becau­se of this situa­ti­on, we are very much depen­dent of the work being done at the Ana­ly­sis Cent­re, in Ham­burg (led by{ Bodo von Borrie}s, manage­ment by {Andre­as Kör­ber}), whe­re the main part of data pro­ces­sing and of the first and gene­ral com­pa­ra­ti­ve ana­ly­ses were car­ri­ed out. Fur­ther­mo­re, the Norsk Social Sci­ence Data Ser­vice ({NSD}) pro­vi­ded the Natio­nal Coor­di­na­tors with advice and comm­ents regar­ding the sam­pling sche­mes (inclu­ding the secu­ring of their repre­sen­ta­ti­vi­ty and com­pa­ti­bi­li­ty) as well as the data ent­ry module.

Almost all the NCs alre­a­dy have or will sure­ly have col­le­agues being inte­res­ted in par­ti­ci­pa­ting in spe­cial ana­ly­ses of the data.

One of the gre­at advan­ta­ges of our pro­ject-orga­ni­sa­ti­on is the lack of bureau­cra­cy. The natio­nal coor­di­na­tors have a per­so­nal inte­rest and have inves­ted their own labour force in the pro­ject, and are pushing on to obtain results as soon as pos­si­ble. The­r­e­fo­re our time has been used in a very effi­ci­ent way: within 5 years after the idea was dis­cus­sed for the first time, rese­ar­chers in 26 count­ries have access to data from all the count­ries invol­ved and have the pos­si­bi­li­ty to work in a net­work with col­le­agues all over Euro­pe on the same data.

But the eco­no­my, howe­ver, is a very com­pli­ca­ting fac­tor when a pro­ject is deve­lo­ping in this way. We star­ted the pro­ject with four emp­ty hands, and espe­ci­al­ly the first years our lack of fun­ding limi­t­ed our work. The par­ti­ci­pan­ts in the pro­ject were invi­ted to take part only if they could pay the cos­ts for the natio­nal inves­ti­ga­ti­on with their own natio­nal money, and this situa­ti­on has limi­t­ed the total num­ber of the par­ti­ci­pa­ting count­ries, and influen­ced the time at which many of the count­ries could enter the pro­ject. The cos­ts of the natio­nal part of the sur­vey have been cover­ed by natio­nal funds, insti­tu­ti­ons, uni­ver­si­ties or col­leges. The expen­ses of the cen­tral manage­ment as well as the cen­tral ana­ly­ses of the data are part­ly paid for by the host insti­tu­ti­ons, stron­gly sup­port­ed by natio­nal and inter­na­tio­nal orga­ni­sa­ti­ons and funds. Among the spon­sors of the cen­tral work, the Kör­ber-Foun­da­ti­on in Ham­burg has a pro­mi­nent place.

{Magne Ang­vik}

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