Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Normally, you primarily see slides from us, with data. But at the end of the year, why not show you who makes all the research happen? So here, that is all of us (well, almost) across our three offices, and including some people who were with us until recently. Or who thought they were gone, and now find themselves back!
This is a Thank You from me to all of them. For doing great stuff and for being wonderful to work with.
To our readers out there, this also is an invitation to join our training events, or stop by and let us know about your research. Happy holidays!
Posted by HansG at 11:53 AM
Friday, December 10, 2010
Access the full report here, and provide us with your thoughts and comments.
By Yuliya Aliyeva Gureyeva, Baku
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Every three years, a range of countries take part in the educational PISA tests, an assessment of the competencies of 15-year olds. The tests are organized by the OECD, and have led to soul-searching and vigorous educational reforms in various countries. In the 2009 round, 34 OECD countries and 41 partner countries took part.
Among the partner countries in 2009 is Azerbaijan. The news is dramatically bad. Azerbaijan ranked 74 out of 75 participating countries, coming in above Kyrgyzstan. Ahead of Azerbaijan are countries such as Jordan, Peru, Tunisia, Colombia, Thailand. It is not just a legacy of socialism: Russia is far ahead, just under Turkey and Lithuania, and not even far from Austria.The full table is here.
It would be interesting to find out more about the variation within Azerbaijan. There must be schools that are doing better. What can one learn from them? If this issue remains unaddressed, Azerbaijan's next generation will have little to show for all the oil wealth the country received.
Friday, December 03, 2010
Food Safety in Georgia: views from retailers, producers and consumers in Tbilisi and Samtskhe-Javakheti
Friday, November 19, 2010
Ambassador Dieter Boden, a distinguished German diplomat who has served both as German Ambassador to the OSCE as well as UN Special Representative to the Secretary General, spoke at the Europe House about conflict resolution in the disputed territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Ambassador Boden worked in Abkhazia and participated actively in the mediation peace process. He drew attention to the tendency to oversimplify the conflict and suggest that the solution is Russia’s retreat from the territories and that after that the people would be easily reconciled. He said that from his experience speaking with Abkhaz youth he saw a people that were deeply traumatized, distrustful and helpless. He emphasized the great need to build confidence between the people and that the way to do this is implement confidence-building measures (CBM), and the key role of local civil society in this process. These would be projects that would aim to gradually end the patterns of animosity that have become entrenched in the almost 20 year-period since the end of the war. While emphasizing that the conflict cannot be solved without Russia’s help, he warned against the neglect of soft strategies that can help foster peace even in the absence of political opportunity for reintegration.
He spoke also about the EU’s late though vital role in the peace process, especially after the OSCE and the UN missions were discontinued after the 2008 conflict. He pointed at the strength of the EU promoting democracy, rule of law, and human rights, the development of which would bring about stabilization, but also questioned whether or not the EU has a commitment to a coherent political vision for stabilization. The possibility exists that with time other priorities can supersede the interests in peace in the South Caucasus. He sketched two perspectives on why it may not: one is that the Caucasus is an essential part of Europe and cannot afford to step back from involvement there, and the other is that it must maintain involvement to remain a credible global actor.
When responding to questions from the audience, Ambassador Boden pointed to missed opportunities for peace, including intense domestic debate surrounding the word “sovereign” in describing Abkhazia, which delayed the process of negotiation and in that time Russia and Abkhazia had deferred the UN declaration. He also stated the need to admit past mistakes and to build political dialogue around them, like how the first war in South Ossetia was started by the Georgian side. He drew a parallel to his own country, Germany, which has gone through the process of coming to terms with a painful past. Finally, in addition to confidence building measures, he said that another strategy to make Georgia attractive for South Ossetia and Abkhazia is to strengthen domestic democratic institutions.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Monday, November 08, 2010
On October 27, CRRC attended a lecture by well-known and accomplished scholar Dr. Ronald Grigor Suny, presently director of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies and the Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History at the University of Michigan. Dr. Suny presented his upcoming book, “The Young Stalin: The Making of a Revolutionary.” In his dynamic lecture, he explained his aim to approach the biography of one of the most written about historical figures of all time.
He takes the stance against one of the traditional views of biographers -- that the fame that the individual achieved was present from childhood, and the author’s task entails describing the development of these inherent traits. Much like the shift from the model of the absolute and unchanging concept of the nation to the now widely accepted view that a nation is the result of social construction and human manipulation, Dr. Suny invited the audience to consider that Stalin was not born a monster, but rather to consider what contributed to his development and formation.
Friday, November 05, 2010
CRRC hosted a presentation on October 27 by Onnik Krikorian, a British journalist of part-Armenian descent and the Caucasus editor for Global Voices, entitled “Overcoming Negative Stereotypes in the Caucasus: New and Social Media in cross-border communication and conflict reporting.” Onnik spoke about the rise of the influence of blogging, Global Voices’ role in promoting grassroots individuals and groups speak their mind and connect with others, circumventing often biased and insufficient media sources. He drew upon CRRC's work on Armenian and Azerbaijani news coverage, which found both sides generally biased. Using CRRC data taken from a previous post, he looked at the unsettling numbers of Armenians and Azerbaijanis disapproving of friendship with the other group: 70% of Armenians disapprove of friendship with Azerbaijanis and 97% of Azerbaijanis with Armenians. He shared his own story of connecting with Azerbaijanis in Georgia, as he was not able to travel Azerbaijan. Through Facebook, skype, blogs, and other means of social media, he was able to put many Azerbaijani and Armenian bloggers and activists in touch, starting to corrode seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Monday, November 01, 2010
The Caucasus Barometer 2008 survey asked people about the number of close friends they have. Close friends were specified to mean “people who are not your relatives, but who you feel at ease with, can talk to about what is on your mind, or call on for help.” In Azerbaijan, 27% of respondents said that they had no close friends. When the results are disaggregated by gender, show a clear divide: women have far fewer close friends. Thirty-seven percent of women reported having no close friends compared to only 17% of men.
When we isolated the data by looking at the Azerbaijani women who said they had zero friends. Focusing on the settlement type, about a third of the female respondents asked in the capital and in other urban areas replied that they no friends compared with about half of rural women respondents.
Why are so many Azerbaijani women, particularly older rural women, lacking close friendships? Perhaps the isolation of rural life combined with fewer possibilities to do communal activities are leaving women with no one to call a friend. Are they less likely to be involved in public life and activities outside the home? What could contribute to a more socially active and connected female population? Bring your ideas about this issue by responding and sharing your opinion, experience or research.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Scores for selected countries according to the 2010 CPI.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
We have previously posted on some of our crowdsourcing work, also here. This may seem like a niche interest, but it is part of our broader approach: making sure that the voices of ordinary citizens in the Caucasus are heard. Surveys are one way of doing that, crowdsourcing is another tool that we are working with.
On October 13, we presented some of the lessons we learned at a conference on Social Media, at the Frontline Club in Georgia.
The video quality is not great, and we spoke to the crowd, not the camera, but you will get the idea. We summarize the main six lessons we drew out of the project and here is the link to the presentation. Yep, they are pretty obvious in retrospect, but not all of it was so clear to us at the time. The talk, primarily by Jonne Catshoek, starts at 1.16.00. If you want to hear more, let us know.
Friday, October 15, 2010
While attitudes toward interethnic friendship can give an idea of how people feel about others in their personal lives, the Caucasus Barometer survey probes further into core beliefs by asking about attitudes toward interethnic marriage. In analyzing their replies, we gain an insight into how different ethnicities come into play in the context of marriage and the formation of a family. Because the family as a unit makes up the traditional conception of a society as such, typically attitudes toward interethnic marriage are more conservative even when interethnic friendship is accepted. This holds to be true in the case of the Caucasus countries according to the CB 2009 data.
In addition to the question about approval of interethnic friendship, the same question was asked about approval of a woman of one’s ethnicity marrying someone from these same groups. When compared with the findings of the question about friendship, all three countries have majorities of respondents disapproving of marriages outside of their ethnic group or nationality. The one surprising exception is a narrow majority of Armenians – 51%—approve of Armenian women marrying Russians.
Georgians are less than enthusiastic about interethnic marriage, but still more so than their Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts. With the Armenian-Russian exception, Georgians have relatively high approval levels for Italians, Greeks, Russians, Americans, and Germans, between 37% and 41% viewing such mixed marriages favorably. Marriages with Abkhazians and Ossetians both fared comparably to those with Europeans; both had 36% of respondents approving.
Armenians are also disapproving of inter-marriage, except for a narrow majority of 51% approving of Armenian-Russian marriages. Armenians are slightly less accepting than Georgians, but also without dramatic drops in approval of marriages with many European groups, which had more than 30% approving of mixed marriages with Europeans.
Azerbaijanis are the least supportive of friendship with other ethnicities, so it is also not surprising to observe the highest levels of disapproval of Azerbaijani women’s marrying men of other ethnicities. Only 49% approve of Azerbaijani women marrying Turks, compared to 82% approving of friendship. The other ethnicities that a majority of Azerbaijanis approved of friendship with – Germans and Russians—fared dramatically worse on the question of marriage, having only 9% and 8% approving respectively. Ninety-nine percent of Azerbaijanis looked unfavorably on a mixed Armenian-Azerbaijani marriage.
Marriage and subsequently family ties are far more personal than a simple friendship – marriages yield children, and children are the future of every nation. Changes in the traditional conception of a national identity based on ethnicity is perceived as a threat to the survival of the nation in its present form and this may be an explanation for the significant drop in approval of ethnically mixed marriages from friendship in the South Caucasus. Yet what is the relationship between approval of such friendships and marriages? How far does ethnic identity play a role in the shaping of such attitudes? What are the factors that could influence more tolerance toward interethnic bonds? Tell us your opinion by posting a reply!
Click on the charts for a clearer view, and access our data here.
Monday, October 11, 2010
With ever-increasing globalized societies, ethnically homogeneous states are fewer and fewer. Increased mobility has resulted in freer movement for migration and travel, and advances in technology have made constant communication easy across the globe. No doubt, these developments have made friendships between different nationalities more common, and even taken for granted in many places. Yet traditional values persist, and by examining attitudes towards this phenomenon, we can gain an understanding of a country’s social dynamics as well as predicting potential conflicts.
In the CRRC 2009 Caucasus Barometer survey, respondents in all three Caucasus countries were polled about whether or not they approve of friendship and in a separate question to be discussed later, of marriage (of a woman of their ethnicity) with various other nationalities. Of the three countries, Georgians are the most accepting of friendship with other ethnicities of the three countries, with an overwhelming majority of respondents approving of friendship with every nationality, Italians and Greeks scoring the highest at 83%, followed closely by Americans, at 82%.
The majority of Armenians approve of friendship with other nationalities, with the exception of Turks and Azerbaijanis, of which 66% and 70% disapprove of respectively. Notably, the highest level of approval of friendship with another ethnic group is 93% for Russians, followed by Americans, at 79%.
Azerbaijan is by far the most disapproving of friendship with other ethnicities. Most Azerbaijanis disapprove of interethnic friendship with the exception of 82% approving of friendship with Turks, and 52% favoring friendship with Russians. While unsurprising within the context of protracted strife between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a staggering 97% of Azerbaijanis disapprove of friendship with Armenians.
What accounts for such different attitudes toward interethnic friendship? Why are Georgians the most “friendly” while Azerbaijanis the least? A high level of Georgians’ approval of friendship with Russians as well as Abkhazians and Ossetians suggests that political tension between nations alone is not sufficient for animosity on a personal level. While tracking the root causes of such attitudes is not straightforward, uncovering them could have profound policy implications for fostering peaceful relations in part through positive attitudes toward friendship across ethnicity. What do you think are the causes of such rifts and what is the policy direction to improve tolerance on a state level? Check our data to find out more and post a reply with your thoughts.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
We recently undertook a small online survey of PhD students at Georgia's two major universities. This comes at a time when significant programs and support are already available to Georgian PhD students: CSS is launching a new PhD program, ASCN is offering significant research opportunities, the US Embassy will launch a program with Ilia State University, and now there is CARTI as a further opportunity.
The survey was done in Georgian, had 108 respondents, who probably are representative of active and engaged PhD students in Tbilisi, by virtue of responding to the request for participation. One should, of course, be cautious about generalizing from the results.
What, then, about existing students? 23 respondents said they had earned their degree abroad, while 75 said they had not. English seems in the ascendancy: 83 respondents said they had professional competency in English, compared with 66 in Russian, 12 in German and 6 in French.
PhD students are busy, and not only with their dissertation: 44 respondents said that they were teaching at university, and 81 respondents said they also had another job outside university. The jobs outside university are distributed across public-sector (33), NGO (25), private sector (20), and other (17). This illustrates that it may be difficult for students to focus on their research in the way that many Western PhD students can.
Libraries are surpassed by electronic resources. Only seven respondents say they use libraries. Free electronic materials are used by 31 respondents, and electronic catalogues such as EBSCO by 21, with 12 saying that they have a password to electronic libraries of universities abroad. Eleven respondents say they get materials from abroad. No one says that they use sources that exist in their department.
The upgrading of skills of Georgian professors at universities is seen as necessary or very necessary by 74 of the respondents. The PhD students themselves attend a fair amount of trainings. The last training they attended was on their field of specialization (28), teaching methods (26), research methods (22) and academic writing (5). 27 respondents said that this last training took place abroad, illustrating that PhD students enjoy reasonable levels of mobility.
And which skills do PhD students want to upgrade the most? 50 respondents told us they need training research methods, 21 want training in their particular field of specialization, 13 in teaching methods, and 10 in academic writing.
To be sure, this was the survey we organized in a little more than an afternoon, primarily out of curiosity. It suggests that more systematic work should be done to understand how to develop Georgia's research capacity. Given the amount of investment into PhD programs and research support, the PhD students themselves are curiously underresearched.
If you want access to the data, please post a comment or get in touch with us.
Friday, October 08, 2010
A particularly intriguing talk at TEDxYerevan was given by Tim Straight, Honorary Consul of Norway and Finland to Armenia. Is the Caucasus in Europe or in Asia? Tim highlighted that there are five countries that defy easy categorization: Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and also Turkey. Tim explores how the dividing lines fall according to corporations, mapmakers and values.
In his talk, Tim drew on data from CRRC, but also from the World Values Survey. From CRRC, Jenny Paturyan and Laurene Aubert analyzed the data, helping to make the talk happen. Please let others know about the talk, if you liked it. (If the link does not work, let us know, we just updated it.)
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Secondly, the far smaller number of interviews conducted in a survey means that you can allocate more of your resources towards ensuring quality. Would you want to spend your money providing a competitive salary to 100 quality interviewers and training them well, or would you rather spend your money paying a minimal wage to 106,577 interviewers and training them insufficiently? In short, a survey allows for more resources to be allocated to other aspects of the process. CRRC invests resources in ensuring quality throughout the survey process, including performing checks to ensure interviewer integrity and entering the data from each interview into the database twice in order to catch data entry errors.
Thirdly, with a survey you can spend your time and money making sure that you collect information on all members of your sample. You can revisit houses where you didn’t find people at home the first time. This is important because certain parts of the population are harder to reach than others. For example, women, older people, and unemployed people are all more likely to be at home when an interviewer visits. These demographic groups may have different answers to survey questions than their counterparts, and a sample that over-represents them may be biased. CRRC interviewers randomly select a respondent in each selected household. If that household member isn’t home, the interviewer schedules a re-visit to the household, and makes a total of three visits to attempt to find that household member at home. This ensures that the sample contains a representative mix of men and women, young and old, employed and unemployed.
External migration from Georgia since its independence in 1991 has significantly influenced the shape and dynamics of modern Georgia. For instance, almost everyone in Georgia knows at least someone who has migrated. Entire families are supported by remittances sent home and entire communities have been altered by these movements. Georgia's supply of labor, particularly highly skilled labor, has also been significantly affected.
The Caucasus Research Resource Centre (CRRC) – Georgia, in cooperation with Danish Refugee Council, has sought to go beyond the numbers and to highlight the voices of both migrants themselves and households whence migrants depart.
This report seeks to provide a current and comprehensive overview of the migration trends of Georgian citizens since 1995 and it is hoped that this report will lead to better policies and more discussion on how to better maximize human resources in Georgia and around the world.
In addition, this report seeks to provide context and baseline analysis of the current return population and programmatic efforts. It utilizes a variety of research projects, including two different sets of focus groups, to provide as comprehensive a snapshot as possible of the current migration trends. Furthermore, it is designed to be used for the development of a return and reintegration program, and therefore attempts to shape the information in such a manner.
The report was compiled way way back in 2007 and is now finally available on CRRC's site.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
By David McArdle
In recent weeks, CRRC have focused on levels of happiness and satisfaction in the Caucasus. In line with this theme, the World Giving Index 2010 (WGI) has released their latest figures, which they hope will act as a marker of cohesiveness in a society.
Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) published the WGI report, discussing how they believe that almost all countries, cultures and faiths have their own traditions of giving which are complex and shaped by their history, customs and religion.
The report finds that the association between happiness and giving is greater than that of national GDP, or wealth, and giving. Perhaps the level of giving in a country speaks to the strength of its civil society – the extent to which individuals are willing and able to contribute towards addressing the needs of others both in their own localities and across borders.
The results of the WGI placed Australasian neighbours Australia and New Zealand in the top two positions, respectively. As for the Caucasus countries, Azerbaijan was placed as the top country in the Caucasus with regard to giving, ranked 67th out of the 153 countries listed on the WGI, sharing its spot with Botswana, Mongolia, Mexico and Mauritius.
Meanwhile, Armenia was 115th and shared its ranking with El Salvador, Ecuador and Latvia.
Finally, Georgia was situated at a rather low 134th, joined alongside India, Turkey and Cote D’Ivoire (and please refer to the Index’s methodology section for an insight into how ‘giving’ is defined. For instance, the Index regards the term ‘giving’ as not exclusively connected with the donation of monies).
For access to the colourful and accessible report in full, please follow the link to CAF’s site. We’d like to thank Jonathan K. for drawing our attention to this.
Friday, September 10, 2010
In August 2010, the Fellowship Selection Committee of the Junior Research Fellowship Program (JRFP)-Azerbaijan had the difficult task of selecting the three best policy papers submitted by program participants. The voting, which was held by secret ballot was extremely difficult because these three papers had minimum differences between scores. Thus, the distribution of the top three winners was unknown until the very last moment. CRRC-Azerbaijan is proud to present the winners of the JRFP policy paper competition: Aynur Ramazanova (first place), Shabnam Agayeva (second place) and Gulnar Mammadova (third place).
The competition for best policy paper was open to students or recent graduates of Azerbaijani Universities between the ages of 18 and24. Before working on their papers, participants were invited to become members of the CRRC Moodle Platform and to take two courses: Introduction to Public Policy Analysis and Academic Writing for Policy Analysis. These courses provided participants with the basic knowledge and skills necessary to successfully complete their papers. All of the projects conducted by students were remarkable and touched upon various significant social issues ranging from control over genetically modified products to e-government, and from programs for juvenile offenders to respiratory diseases among children.
The winner of the contest, Aynur Ramazanova, discussed the challenging issue of corruption in Azerbaijani Universities using Azerbaijan Medical Universities as her case study. Her findings indicate that 89.3% of students surveyed in the project had paid cash bribes at least once. Among the indicated causes of corruption were low teaching wages, a weak system of control over corruption in the higher education system, and the incompetence of management staff at universities. Results also found that students were often reluctant to learn and invest their energy into education since chances for a decent occupation on the labor market usually depend on the ability to pay bribe, rather than on their level of professionalism. The research also discusses the relationship between corruption and the general climate in society. When corruption and nepotism are a norm, students become socialized to it from early childhood. The author concludes that this negative socialization should be challenged through “positive propaganda” in the mass media and educational programs that will promote alternative values and show that corruption can easily suspend a country’s development.
The second place winner, Shabnam Agayeva, discussed the problem of inadequate services for survivors of marital physical abuse. She interviewed workers at NGOs that provide services for battered women. She also examined secondary sources to conclude that the absence of cooperation between key institutions such as hospitals, legal advice centers, crisis centers, shelters and police significantly hinders adequate responses to domestic violence. Therefore, the development of policy mechanisms to address this must be considered.
The third winner, Gulnar Mammadova, discussed the issue of education in her paper “Challenges of General Secondary Education at Public Schools in Azerbaijan: How to Turn the ’Quality of Reality’ into the ‘Reality of Quality’?” In her paper, Gulnar recommends expanding the size of public financing in education and ensuring effective budget distribution in order to confront important issues such as poor quality schooling in Azerbaijan.
The winners of this competition will be awarded iPods and the other participants of the JRFP competition will be awarded book vouchers. These are only the results of the first stage of the JRFP program. We anticipate many more interesting and challenging projects from our participants in the next two stages. The program will conclude in June 2011 with a conference where participants will publicly present their research projects.
The Junior Research Fellowship Program is implemented by CRRC office in Azerbaijan and was made possible with the generous support of the Open Society Institute, Think Tank Fund.