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How should Mass attendance be measured? An Italian case study


  • Maurizio Rossi


  • Ettore Scappini



The validity of measures of Mass attendance has been a matter of controversy for some time in Italy, just as it has in other countries. This study will show that the different survey methods which can be used each have distinct advantages and disadvantages. We will compare the questionnaire and daily diary as measuring devices and try to highlight their main qualities and failings. More specifically, although the large number of up-to-date questionnaire-based surveys carry the benefit of offering a ‘richer’ range of information regarding the interviewee’s religious behaviour, they provide data which is excessively approximate on a systematic basis. In comparison, time use studies are less common and much more costly, partly because they usually use a daily diary to record the activities carried out. Although the data they produce is ‘scarcer’ in terms of information, it is also much more reliable. Indeed, estimates obtained from comparisons between the two tools highlight significant differences. In addition, synchronic and diachronic comparisons cannot be carried out due to the fact that the distortions introduced by the use of questionnaires are extremely variable over time and depending on the social segments studied (young people/adults, men/women etc.). The conclusion we will draw is that the daily diary is a far more suitable tool for surveying Mass attendance than the questionnaire because of these distortions. Finally, we will show that this conclusion does not depend on the specific survey methods adopted, as comparisons with multination surveys seem to confirm that, at least with regard to Italy, distortion resulting from use of a questionnaire is a general phenomenon. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Maurizio Rossi & Ettore Scappini, 2012. "How should Mass attendance be measured? An Italian case study," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 46(6), pages 1897-1916, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:qualqt:v:46:y:2012:i:6:p:1897-1916
    DOI: 10.1007/s11135-011-9655-2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gershuny, Jonathan, 2000. "Changing Times: Work and Leisure in Postindustrial Society," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198287872.
    2. Ettore Scappini, 2010. "Daily diaries in time use surveys. A solution to overcome measurement problems in single-activity events with long characteristic rhythms," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 44(5), pages 915-939, August.
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