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Silke L. Schneider, Dominique Joye & Christof Wolf

In: The SAGE Handbook of Survey Methodology

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

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When Translation is not Enough: Background Variables in Comparative Surveys1
When translation is not enough: background variables in comparative surveys
Silke L. SchneiderDominique JoyeChristof Wolf
INTRODUCTION

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 linked to institutional structures and context-dependent interpretations. ...

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