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European Social Survey Sustainability

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ESS-SUSTAIN (European Social Survey Sustainability)

Reporting period: 2017-04-01 to 2019-03-31

Public attitudes matter in democratic societies. They reflect what citizens believe, want, fear and prefer. They are difficult to measure, are often unexpressed and cannot be inferred from electoral choices alone. But long-term changes in the populations attitudes and value positions are as important to governance and social analysis as are shifts in a country's (or a continent's) demographic profile, economic outlook, behaviour patterns and cultural norms. Politicians, policy makers and academics all need to keep abreast of and understand such changes if they are to achieve a nuanced picture of their society. Understanding the nature of the societal challenges affecting European societies is critical in developing responsive socio-economic policy solutions.

The European Social Survey is an unparalleled resource enabling stability and change in Europeans’ social attitudes to be charted. Its value for science and public policy has been recognised. However, there remain significant challenges to ensuring its long-term sustainability. ESS SUSTAIN represents a comprehensive response to the different challenges and aims to be instrumental in securing the sustainable future of ESS ERIC. The overall objective of ESS SUSTAIN is, through the concerted effort of its Work Packages, to ensure the stability and pan-European coverage of the ESS in order to ensure the continuation and expansion of its mission and, in turn, to help Europeans tackle the challenges they face in the decades to come.

By the end of SUSTAIN ESS ERIC had more members, lower membership fees per country, greater visibility, fledgling global links and clearly defined impact. This underlines how successful this grant was in promoting the long-term sustainability of the European Social survey ERIC.
ESS SUSTAIN commenced on 1st October 2015. By Month 18 (March 2017) all Work Packages are being implemented and activities undertaken are in accordance with the schedule as set out in Annex 1 (Description of Work), with minor delays. In those Work Packages in which delays occurred, a responsive management structure and organisation has ensured swift corrective action and with realistic revisions to the timetable instituted. The management of ESS SUSTAIN has periodically reviewed the continued relevance of project actions across all Work Packages.

Arising from all Work Packages, key outputs include the production of 10 of 14 scheduled Deliverables. Delays to the submission of deliverables were related to the scheduling of actions within three Work Packages.

The initial actions undertaken included the appointment of staff (Membership Development Officer, Media and Communications Officer and SUSTAIN Administrator). Two amendments to the Grant Agreement were instituted in this reporting period; one of which included the realisation of a risk mitigation activity, namely, the appointment of three, part-time Roaming Ambassadors, rather than one full-time Roaming Ambassador as was originally planned. These Roaming Ambassadors work closely with key stakeholders in target countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Luxembourg, Romania). The ambassadorial efforts are consolidated by the work of the Membership Development Officer and by the outputs of the Work Packages 3 and 5 on Communications and Impact.

An important feature of the ESS SUSTAIN project is its links to the ESS ERIC General Assembly via the Membership Development Advisory Committee (MDAC), chaired by the Deputy Chair of the ESS ERIC GA and via the ESS SUSTAIN Funding and Governance Working Group, chaired by the ESS ERIC Chair and involving ESS ERIC Member, Observer and Guest country representatives. A key result of ESS SUSTAIN is therefore that, through its organisation, it ensures the activities undertaken are complementary to the wider activities of the European Social Survey ERIC, providing clear value added to its continuing operations.

Other key results in this period include: increased participation in the ESS ERIC - the activities undertaken were instrumental in securing the application for ESS ERIC membership by Hungary (M10/July 2016 ) and Italy (M15/December 2016); securing Guest status applications from Finland (M4/January 2016); Iceland (M7/April 2016); Israel (M9/June 2016); Spain and Slovakia (M15/December 2016). ESS8 fieldwork has been undertaken in Russia following a successful ERA.Net RUS application, supported by the ESS SUSTAIN Membership Development Officer.

National workshops involving key stakeholders at national level (academic, policy-makers and funders) in targeted countries including Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria. These workshops present ESS data by researchers and aim to stimulate interest in and highlight the value of ESS data, both national level and cross-national comparative data. A Visegrad Regional Network has been established.

A Prospectus, detailing the value of the ESS dataset, its methodological resources innovative programme of research, together with details of how to apply for membership, was drafted in the first Reporting Period. Charting the impact of the ESS via its publications and citations has been on-going. The ESS Impact Study commenced in this reporting period and has progressed in accordance with Annex 1.

The public profile of the ESS has been enhanced through the establishment of a Facebook page and the development of the Twitter feed of ESS ERIC. A blog site on the main European Social Survey webpage has also been operated.
The review of the funding and governance of the ESS ERIC has resulted in the proposals for the future funding arrangements (2017-2021). Future funding opportunities offered by the European Structural and Investment Funds have been identified and progress made towards concrete action.
The overall impact of ESS SUSTAIN aims to place the ESS ERIC on a sustainable footing for the next decade or so in order that it can consolidate and extend its intellectual and geographical reach. It does so by targeting the development of the ESS ERIC membership base; the exploration of pathways to academic and non-academic impact; identifying future funding opportunities and future international collaborations. The Funding and Governance Working Group (WP7) has reviewed funding models and issued recommendations for consideration by the ESS ERIC General Assembly. ESS SUSTAIN responds to the call for synergies between European Structural and Investment Funds and research infrastructures in its exploratory work on opportunities for potential - and current- ESS countries to access different funds (WP8) Alongside these proposals, an ESS Prospectus has been prepared which sets out the benefits of participation in the ESS ERIC and procedures for membership application (WP4). Evidencing the impact of ESS is undertaken in WP5. The Press and Communications Strategy (Work Package 3) seeks to engage key stakeholders via a variety of media ensuring the widest possible dissemination of ESS results. Regional network meetings and academic publishing workshops (Work Package 2 and 4 respectively) are underway. The Membership Development Adviser and three Roaming Ambassadors undertake engagement actions in targeted countries and draw on the results of all WPs. The management of the project aligns its activities to the decision making processes of ESS ERIC General Assembly, supporting the long-term impact of ESS SUSTAIN.