Monday, February 27, 2012

Tracking "CRRC" on the Web | Google Alerts

In the spirit of being data-driven, we try to track when and how people refer to our work on the Internet. The simplest tool for this is Google Alerts, from which we receive the weekly update on some of the main terms that are associated with our work.

One term that has NOT proven useful in this is "CRRC". As it turns out, a number of organizations use this acronym. There is, for example, the Conflict Records Research Center at the National Defense University, which itself is the center for professional military education in the United States. That CRRC says that its "mission is to facilitate the use of captured records to support research, both within and outside the government."

Next to keeping Saddam Hussein's records, CRRC also serves more basic tasks, such as keeping your roof from getting too hot.

This CRRC says that it "maintains a third-party rating system for radiative properties of roof surfacing materials." It's based in California, and has been rating roofs since 1998. We would like to think that this CRRC also is about numbers. Similarly in California is a CRRC that at first sounds as if it's dedicated to recycling. Actually, it's an association of companies in the waste industry, and, as such associations do, both serves their members with services, and lobbies on their behalf. Started in 1958, it's been around for a while.

And then there's another American association. Austere in its Internet design and logo, it also holds the address. Since they had that .org domain, we had to get a much longer Web address way back when. Based in New Jersey, the Citizen's Rifle and Revolver Club is the oldest CRRC we could identify, and was started in 1938.

Between centers, councils, clubs and industry associations, we also found a more cuddly version of CRRC, this one in the United Kingdom.

If you are a lost rabbit, that is where you most likely would want to find yourself. As the website says:
"Our long term Rabbit residents enjoy the freedom of quiet, purpose built, predator proof enclosures to roam as they wish. [...] They have the chance to wash each other, and play, and spend a lot of time in rows next to each other just watching the world go by."
That doesn't sound like what we do everyday, but it's a nice group to share the search term "CRRC" with.

Any search terms you try to keep track off? Try Google Alerts by clicking here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

ODA Keyword Search

Most CRRC users know about our Online Data Analysis tool, ODA. It is easy to use, continues to be popular, and in less than a year we have had nearly 70.000 charts generated.

What is less well known, as we realized from questions we received, is that ODA also has a useful keyword search, in case you want to find particular pieces of data. Let's say you are interested in Georgian attitudes to the Chinese:

Select the dataset (1), go to Codebook and Keywords (2), and then enter your word (3). In the screenshot here, you already see the results. Note, as highlighted in pink, that we still have occasional typos (marring). These constitute less than 1% of the questions, but yep, the tool is not perfect yet, and you may want to try out different keywords. If you notice a spelling mistake, please leave a comment below.

At any rate, keyword search should further expand the usability of our Online Data Analysis for you, which is why we wanted to let you know about it. Try it out by clicking here on ODA.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Social Capital in Caucasus Analytical Digest (CAD)

We have previously worked on social capital, and this issue recently was taken up by the Caucasus Anylatical Digest. The issue discusses the concept of social capital and its relevance to the societies of the South Caucasus.

The author of the first article, Leslie Hough, argues that in contrast to previous perceptions that Georgia is a country with high "bonding" social capital and low "bridging" social capital, in-group solidarity and out-group mistrust, there are in fact vibrant forms of bridging social capital in Georgia; the challenge is the institutionalization of these informal forms of social capital and the alignment of the civil society sector with population's existing priorities and habits. The second article, by Jenny Paturyan, formerly with CRRC, focuses on the low level of social trust in Armenia and its effects on voting behavior and emigration, while the last article, by Anar Valiyev, analyses social capital in Azerbaijan, with the author positing that there is a relatively high level of bonding social capital and correspondingly little bridging social capital in the country, which hinders the development of grass-roots democracy and decreases voter turnout in elections.

All three articles draw on CRRC data, and there are a number of tables highlighting the main aspects of social capital. While we know the authors well, and thus almost feel a bit sheepish in recommending their work, the articles do summarize broad research in accessible style, thus well worth reading. Find the articles here.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Leaving Thoughts by British Political Officer in Georgia

David Gale, who had served as Political Officer at the British Embassy since 2007, recently wrote down some of his thoughts upon leaving Georgia, after covering a turbulent time. It was refreshing to read a direct and evenhanded take on a number of issues, from a diplomat who has been following events very closely.

One aspect we especially liked in David's reflections is that he repeatedly highlights polling, as a way of understanding the preferences of the Georgian electorate. To read David's thoughts click here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fatalism and Political Perceptions in Georgia

Widespread apathy and a general disbelief that good can come from joint effort is a major factor hindering social capital in Georgia. One indicator of apathy can be fatalism, meaning the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable. This blog explores the level of political fatalism in Georgia and how it is connected to Georgians’ perceptions of the country’s current political course and democracy. Many Georgians have fatalistic attitudes about their ability to influence political decisions (or are unsure), and this type of political fatalism is associated with perceptions of democracy and political course.

In March 2011 CRRC, on behalf of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), conducted the sixth wave of a survey on voting and public attitudes in Georgia. Respondents were asked to indicate the degree to which they felt they could influence political decisions affecting their lives on a five-point scale. The results show that most Georgians are either unsure or do not feel they can influence political decisions that affect their lives.

How does this fatalistic attitude affect the way Georgians think about politics? The answer may not be straightforward, but as further analysis suggests there are some trends worth exploring. For example, people who do not feel they can influence political decisions that affect their lives tend to believe Georgian politics is going in the wrong direction. 

Note: The original five-point scale is collapsed to a three-point scale by merging strongly agree and agree, and strongly disagree and disagree responses.

There are slight, yet consistent differences between these groups. 35% of Georgians who think that they cannot influence political decisions that affect their lives also believe that Georgia is going in the right direction. However, 48% of those who think they can influence political decisions that affect their lives believe Georgia is going in the right direction. The latter are also less likely to believe that Georgia is going in the wrong direction compared to political fatalists. 

Georgians who demonstrate fatalism with respect to the political sphere are also more likely to believe that Georgia is not a democracy.

The data shows that 47% of Georgians who think that they can influence political decisions consider Georgia to be a democracy. In contrast, 37% of those who think they cannot influence political decisions consider Georgia to be a democracy (50% say it is not a democracy).

Thus, the results indicate that many people in Georgia have fatalistic attitudes towards their ability to influence political decisions (or are unsure), and that this type of political fatalism is associated with perceptions of democracy and political course. Whether this type of political fatalism affects Georgians’ political perceptions or Georgians’ perceptions of political situations encourage fatalism is a topic for further discussion.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

BBC on Gender Roles in the Caucasus | CRRC Data

BBC's Damien McGuinness recently did a short report on gender roles in Georgia. The report used some CRRC data. Click here for the audio piece. The segment on Georgia starts at about 4:30, and our data is cited at 5:45.

You find the link to the report, written by Mariam Naskidashvili, itself here.

Monday, February 06, 2012

The French Senate Bill and Armenian Perceptions on Turkey

As the New York Times reports, on January 23, 2012 the French Senate “approved a bill […] criminalizing the denial of officially recognized genocides, including the Armenian genocide begun in 1915.” The bill has fanned tensions between Turkey and France, emphasizing the complexities of politics and perceptions. Turkish immigrants and French citizens of Turkish origin in Paris, as well as Turks in Ankara and in Istanbul have protested against the bill. Publicity has emphasized Turkey’s objections to the bill as well as the country’s perspective on the events of 1915.

Less attention has been given to the country and population of Armenia itself, leaving many questions unanswered. What does this mean for the future of Armenia-Turkey relations, as well as popular perceptions in these countries? And what are these perceptions to start out with? The 2010 CB asked Armenians how they think the population of Turkey perceives both the country of Armenia and its population. These set of questions were exclusively asked in Armenia and pertain to the population and country of Armenia, rather than the perceptions of Armenians throughout the world or in Turkey. When asked, “Please tell me, in your opinion, how negative or how positive is the population of Turkey's general attitude towards Armenians?” 62% of Armenians felt Turkey’s population had a negative attitude towards Armenians. 17% of Armenians felt Turkey’s population had a generally positive attitude towards Armenians.

Similarly, people were asked, “In your opinion, how negative or how positive is the population of Turkey's general attitude towards the country of Armenia?” More than half of the population (69%) of Armenia felt that Turkey’s population had a negative attitude towards Armenia and 9% thought Turkey’s population had a positive view of Armenia.

Recent politics has highlighted the historical events, while perceptions guide interactions. However, the data has shown that in some instances economic factors overshadow politics and perceptions. This is emphasized by 2010 CB data that shows a willingness on the part of Armenians to conduct business with Turks despite what they perceive to be Turkish discontent towards Armenians and Armenia. In response to the question, ‘Would you approve or disapprove of people of your ethnicity doing business with Turks?’ 45% of Armenians said they approved of conducting business with Turks while 53% said they did not approve.

The data indicates more negative perceptions of Turkish attitudes towards Armenia and Armenians than positive. Yet, almost half of the adult population of Armenia is willing to conduct business with Turks. This could prove to be a mediating factor between the two countries. The economic benefits of trade with Turkey as perceived by Armenians are presented in a previous blog, “Armenian attitudes towards opening the border with Turkey”. But what impact will the new bill have on the future of political, social and economic relationships between Turkey and Armenia? Will it alter Armenian-Turkish public perceptions?