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The overarching objective of the HumVIB EUROCORES programme is the realization of the concept of Europe as a natural laboratory for the social sciences in which the diversity of institutions, practices, histories, and resources enables researchers to analyse how human values, attitudes and behaviour are affected by the characteristics of the multi-level systems or contexts in which they occur.
Following agreement with funding organisations in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States (NSF), the European Science Foundation opened a Call for Proposals in early 2007. The Call attracted 28 Outline Proposals, 16 of which progressed to the Full Proposal Stage. Ultimately 6 Collaborative Research Projects have been funded and the research and networking phase of the programme will begin in October 2008 with the first Scientific Committee meeting. The HumVIB programme will run for 3-4 years. It includes national research funding for the individual CRPs, as well as support for intra-CRP networking and dissemination activities. The Programme aims to support high quality multidisciplinary research.
The concept of Europe as a natural laboratory for the social sciences has its roots in the 1950s and 1960s in the efforts by Stein Rokkan and others to lay the groundwork for a genuinely comparative European social science. Those efforts were hampered by the division of Europe, by the lack of individual-level and aggregate-level data and by problems of statistical method, particularly in the area of cross-level inference. These obstacles have been either swept aside by history or largely overcome by progress in data collection and data management and in statistical methods. Major scientific breakthroughs in this field are now held back only by the absence of a coordinated programme that would enable a critical mass of researchers in the relevant areas and disciplines to come together for sufficient lengths of time and over a sufficient period to tackle the research problems head-on. The HumVIB EUROCORES programme is designed to overcome this final hurdle by combining:
The unprecedented individual-level data resources now available in Europe and typified by the European Social Survey (ESS);
Comprehensive system-level and contextual data ;
Appropriate new methods of multi-level analysis;
The testing of carefully elaborated theories of the effects of institutions and structures or, more generally, contextual factors on individual attitudes and behaviour.