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Instruments and structures of development cooperationGermanyconcluded

The DEval Opinion Monitor 2019 (Phase II)

During the second phase of the DEval study, media use, media perception and perception of content relevant for development policy have been analysed as an interlinked phenomena.

Main Findings and Implications from Opinion Monitor 2019

More than two thirds of citizens say that they actively read, watch or listen to news on international events at least once a day.

Particularly for demographic groups over the age of 40, public television channels, newspapers and the radio are the main sources of information. Social media come into play mainly among younger people and people positioned further towards the right politically.   A majority of the general public trusts the media, whereas those sending out development policy messages – such as the Federal Government or non-governmental organisations – enjoy less trust.

Reports on wars and conflicts, flight and migration, and on climate change are perceived far more frequently than those on development policy initiatives, income inequality or gender equality.

In addition, some members of the public feel that the reporting on issues relevant to development policy is distorted.

There are differences in media usage and perceptions depending on the interviewees’ attitudes towards development policy.

They can be categorised as “supporters”, “sceptics”, “opponents” or “undecideds”.

If the communication of development policy content is to be aimed at particular target groups, the specific media-usage behaviour of the individual population groups should be considered.

However, media are not consumed by individual target groups exclusively; any communication that is tailored to a specific segment of the general public could provoke negative reactions in other population groups. Furthermore, even tailored information offerings are unlikely to reach people who are opposed to DC measures in general or convinced that they do not work.

 

The evaluation was completed in 2019. This is a summary of the findings and recommendations; you can find the complete findings and recommendations in the report.

Background

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda has made the active involvement of citizens in development cooperation (DC) and the German Sustainable Development Strategy more relevant than ever. The Agenda’s ambitious goals, which address such topics as global food security, health, environmental protection, gender equality, education and sustainable production and consumption, will not be achieved without broad public support.

From a normative perspective, too, the support of the general public for any political goals and measures is important. For example, government decision-makers should take the population's views into account when designing policies in order to ensure their acceptance or legitimacy. The same applies to DC as an instrument for implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Equally, civil society organisations rely heavily on citizens’ interest and support in the form of donations and civic engagement. While financial contributions and civic engagement ensure their capacity to operate, public familiarity with and appreciation of these organisations’ work is essential in order to anchor an awareness of global interdependencies in wider society and establish behaviours that are in keeping with the 2030 Agenda.

At present, however, insufficient data and studies are available on the general public's perspective on development policy, DC and global sustainable development, particularly in the wake of current world political developments (e.g. international terrorism, the global refugee movement and the coronavirus pandemic) which have made DC a greater focus of public attention once more. As a result, there is an urgent need to know more about people's knowledge, attitudes and behaviours in relation to these issues. The DEval Opinion Monitor seeks to meet this need for insights, and to provide DC actors with both feedback on public opinion on the topic of DC and sustainable development, and orienting knowledge to guide their strategic approaches and their communication and educational work.

Methods

The Opinion Monitor 2018 was based on survey data from the Aid Attitudes Tracker (AAT), a (panel) study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and based at University College London (UCL). On a six-monthly cycle between 2013 and 2018, around 6,000 people in Germany, France, Great Britain and the USA were interviewed on DC. Since 2019 the study has been continued by the Development Engagement Lab (DEL) project at UCL and the University of Birmingham, and likewise financed by the BMGF. The DEval Opinion Monitor makes use of the DEL survey data.

The AAT, now DEL, panel survey consists of recurring core questions (attitude to DC, changing the budget for DC, etc.) and questions on one-off thematic blocks that are fed in from the DC community. These often relate to current political events (e.g. refugee movements, the Islamic state). The panel survey was conducted every six months for the AAT, and once a year for the DEL project. In order to monitor learning effects from repeated surveys and to obtain data at shorter intervals, the DEL conducts additional surveys several times a year. These are normally based on their own cross-sectional samples and seek responses on core indicators (e.g. attitudes towards DC) and topics of current relevance. Such surveys include the DEL survey on media use and perception in May/June 2019.

In addition to the AAT and DEL surveys, the Opinion Monitor team conducts its own experimental surveys. These investigate how various kinds of information affect attitudes towards DC. The study team also analyses media content for the Opinion Monitor, for which they make use of both existing content-analysis data and their own content analyses.

The DEval Opinion Monitor is supported by a reference group consisting of representatives of state and civil society DC actors. In addition, the study is reviewed by internal and external peer reviewers with expertise in the fields of DC, attitudinal research and social science research methodology.

Contact

Portrait von Dr. Sebastian Schneider
© DEval

Dr Sebastian H. Schneider

Evaluator - Team Leader

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-977

E-mail: sebastian.schneider@DEval.org

[Translate to Englisch:] Portrait Martin Bruder
© DEval

Dr Martin Bruder

Head of Department: Civil Society, Human Rights

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-970

E-mail: martin.bruder@DEval.org

The Different Phases of the Opinion Monitor

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