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Visualizing multinational daily life via multidimensional scaling (MDS)


  • John P. Robinson

    () (University of Maryland)

  • Jonathan Gershuny

    () (Department of Sociology, University of Oxford)


One of the notable innovations in social-science methodology developed during the 1960s was Multi- Dimensional Scaling (MDS). MDS made it possible for social scientists to discover, uncover or model the under- lying spatial structure of relations between various social collectives (like countries or communities), social objects (like music or artifacts) or social attitudes. One early application of MDS described the dimensional contours of Americans’ views of other countries in terms of “perceptual maps of the world”. More recently, it has been used to map country differences in the World Values Survey. Spurred by its initial successful applica- tions, MDS was extended to time-diary data collected in the pioneering 1965 Multinational Time-Budget Study, in which it again provided insightful portrayals of daily activity across the 15 national settings in that study. This present article updates and extends these results by applying MDS methods to the most recent diary collection in the Oxford University MTUS data archive – covering more than 20 (mainly European) countries. Once again, the result was plausible (but somewhat different) configurations again emerged from MDS visualizations. Moreover, these mappings were compatible with conclusions from the 1965 mapping and with earlier more conventional analyses.

Suggested Citation

  • John P. Robinson & Jonathan Gershuny, 2013. "Visualizing multinational daily life via multidimensional scaling (MDS)," electronic International Journal of Time Use Research, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)) and The International Association for Time Use Research (IATUR), vol. 10(1), pages 76-90, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:leu:journl:2013:vol10:issue1:p76-90

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    More about this item


    Time diaries; Multidimensional Scaling; Multinational comparisions; Social change;

    JEL classification:

    • B16 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Quantitative and Mathematical
    • C15 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Statistical Simulation Methods: General
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • C39 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Other
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O50 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - General


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