Research Post #6

I am proposing to research the changing narratives behind national anthems. I would like to find out what explains the success of some national anthems at producing national pride across time, compared to similar failures of other anthems in similar circumstances. This research attempts to explain to readers what primary factor of causality drives the changes in interpretations of national anthems over time. [1]

My research question for a large-n neopositivist study is: “What explains variation in levels of support (defined as the national anthem achieving its goal of instilling a sense of national pride) for national anthems. 

I found it most likely that I will need to create my own data set for this research. Inside such a dataset, or in one already constructed, I would operationalize the change in national support of national anthems by creating a unique plus/minus ordinal grading scale. There is some variance of measurement in national surveys across world polls on national pride, so a unique grading scale would be necessary for this project. After recording the time and event of a dependant variable occurring, survey data from before and after the dependant variable will be measured. 

A set of selected cases to a set of comprehensive independent variables would be selected from various national or international survey services. An existing dataset that I will use as a measurement tool recording the change in opinion of the US national anthem is a combination of the 1991 Gallup May 4 Poll and 2001 Terrorism Reaction Poll #3. As mentioned earlier, I will compile these polls into a single ordinal grading scale. The questions in each poll was: Which of the following would you PREFER as the national Anthem? The Star Spangled Banner, My Country ‘Tis of Thee, America the Beautiful, or God Bless America?” Only the difference of % of respondents who chose The Star Spangled Banner will be measured. In this data set, only one case for my research (the United States’ perception of their national anthem) was measured, so similar datasets for other cases are necessary for a large-n analysis. [2] 

At the moment, two of the primary independent variables I am investigating are the effects of institutions and inherent human psychology on how perception of national anthems change over time. A possible limitation of the datasets is the nonuniformity of such national survey polls. This will force me into creating a custom ordinal grading scale, possibly creating problems in terms of ignored variables within the cases. 

[1] Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. Fitzgerald, The Craft of Research (4th ed.), Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016, 54.

[2] Gallup Poll News Service. May Wave, #4. Gallup Survey Distribution. (05/23/1991-05/26/1991). Retrieved from:; Also Gallup Poll News Service. Terrorism Reaction Poll, #3. CNN/USA Today. (09/21/2001-09/22/2001). Retrieved from:


Author: Price

I am a student at the American University School of International Service pursuing a degree in International Affairs.

3 thoughts on “Research Post #6”

  1. Price,

    I think your decision to use survey poll data and nominal ratio really captures how you wish to explain support for national anthems. I’m also intrigued to see what other data sets you plan to include, I know you mentioned that this particular data set only asses perceptions, I think a data set on particular attitudes on particular objects would be interesting. Maybe considering survey data on people’s attitudes and measuring overall association (positively or negatively) to certain patriotic objects such as the flag, monuments and or pledge of the alliance, to see if these objects create stronger or weaker emotional attachments. Then evaluate how these attachments are evident through attitudes or through perception. When you discussed individuals and institutions, I think in terms of individuals it may be good to sort your cases or selected population by age or generation (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y etc). For example, if there is greater support amongst the older population or within certain generations during this time and vice versa then their maybe an interesting explanation on whether perceptions are changing and where (amongst which populations or which cases of individuals) has it changed the most. I think Large-n works well with your research and the data supports that and I think you’ve done really well in making it clear to the reader what your plan for operationalizing and creating a data set will be.

  2. Price — you have some good thoughts here as you work on conceptualizing your project for research using the large-n methodology. Compiling your own dataset is certainly an option, though also a very time-consuming one. Often it is more useful to think about different ways that you could measure your DV or that you could use proxies for the specific phenomenon that you want to explain (Evan offers some good suggestions here). There is a vast amount of data on ideas related to symbols, nationalism, patriotism, and other concepts and it may well be that such data is a better option to get you close to your more specific concept than trying to construct a dataset as you describe (just as Ross uses % of female participation in the labor force as an indicator for female empowerment — it is not a perfect fit, and it does not capture all of the nuance embodied in the idea of empowerment, but it *does* do a good job of providing a valid and reliable measure that can be analyzed). This is especially important to consider since, as we know, we need data for at least 15 cases in order to pursue research in this methodology. Even if you have US polling or survey data, it is not certain that you would have that same data from other countries (let alone an appropriate sample that would allow for a good comparison). Keep thinking about these things as you work on your research!

  3. National songs are always viewed with great pride, although they are words only.
    In sum, the success and fame of any national anthem of any country in the world is linked to the success of this country economically and militarily.
    In my country we have a beautiful national anthem in terms of words, but in terms of the month no one knows anything about it ..
    Excuse me for my bad English.

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