Abstract and Keywords
This chapter discusses a conceptual framework that clarifies the nature and importance of context in social scientific research. It first explains how context fits into survey analysis, then addresses major problems that hamper use and collection of contextual data: vague or incomplete conceptual definitions of “context” and lack of methodological guidance to collect and analyze contextual data. It suggests that systematic research and cumulative knowledge on contextual effects are constrained by two factors: the lack of standardized contextual variables across surveys and sporadic empirical inquiries. Finally, it outlines directions for future research with an eye toward advancing contextual data collection and analysis as well as ascertaining the impact of context on public opinion and political behavior. It presents statistical approaches to provide a blueprint for explicit measurements and analysis of contextual data and considers the need to modify conventional sampling techniques to capture relevant contextual variability.
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