La globalizzazione della survey. Storia, limiti e opportunità
| STUDI DI SOCIOLOGIA - 2010 - 3
G. GOBO, The globalization of surveys: its evolution, weaknesses and opportunities
It is common to consider that the standardized interview and survey were born together, or
at the very least that their union is indissoluble. It is not true. Standardized interview met the
survey in the 1920s only, when the last was already mature, with almost a hundred years of
experience behind it. So the idea of standardizing the survey came along quite late.
It was only in the 1930s that the two were definitively linked, when the survey betrayed its
roots to become the methodology that we know today.
Survey, survey interview and standardized interview are not synonyms. The survey is a
methodology and may be identified with the entire process of research (from design to data
analysis); the survey interview is the method by which the survey gathers its data. Finally, the
standardized interview, which has become dominant in the last century, is a particular instrument
for collecting survey data. Unfortunately, most research practice and survey literature has
collapsed these three different terms and concepts into one and the same thing.
The central aim of this essay is to maintain the distinction and to affirm that the survey can
stand quite well on its own without the standardized interview, just as it did between the 1820s
and the 1920s. Indeed, abandoning the standardized interview would breathe new life into the
survey, putting it more in tune with the present.
Key words: interview, questionnaire, survey, globalization.