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A Not-So-Modest Proposal: Advancing a Research Agenda for Studying Central Asia Mass Media
Unformatted Document Text:  scholars and skepticism that respondents’ cooperation will do little, if anything, to promote “development of the capacity for local knowledge production.” 29 • Public use of and attitudes toward the press. Where does the public get its news and information—what new and traditional media outlets do they watch, read, or listen to? What does the public think about the press? How much credibility do opposition, government, and independent news outlets have? Conducting reliable public opinion research in the region is challenging due to problems with accessibility of potential respondents, reluctance to participate, and the trustworthiness of the results. However, successful survey research has occurred. For example, Lubin and Joldasov surveyed Kazakhstanis about environmental problems. 30 Wooden conducted surveys in Kyrgyzstan on environmental issues and conducted parallel elite interviews about relationships among governmental responsiveness, elite perceptions, and public opinion. 31 The International Republican Institute and its partners surveyed public attitudes in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan about such matters as policy issues, corruption, religious extremism, and politics; media-related questions included respondents’ sources of news, Internet use, and media credibility. Their findings 32 of a comparatively high level of public confidence in the media in both countries suggests such further research questions as: Why does the press rate so highly despite partisan and government influences of content, self-censorship, and journalists’ difficulty in getting access to information about public affairs and events that may embarrass the regime? 29 S. Aksartova, “Interviewing NGO Leaders in Bishkek,” Central Eurasian Studies Review, No. 2 (2), 2003, pp. 14-15. 30 N. Lubin, A. Joldasov, “Central Asians take stock, part II: Comparison of results from public opinion survey, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, 1993 & 2007,” National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, 2009. 31 A. Wooden, “Environmental concern and popular ‘mobilizability’ in Kyrgyzstan: Identifying public opinion, elite perceptions, conflict potential and political will,” paper presented to the Central Eurasian Studies Society, 2009, Toronto. 32 International Republican Institute, Baltic Surveys Ltd./Gallop Organization, Agency SIAR-Bishkek, and U.S. Agency for International Development, “Kyrgyzstan national opinion poll, April 22-May 9, 2009,” 2009; International Republican Institute, Baltic Surveys Ltd./Gallop Organization, and Institute of Polling and Marketing, “Kazakhstan national opinion poll, May 9-23, 2009,” 2009. 11

Authors: Freedman, Eric.
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scholars and skepticism that respondents’ cooperation will do little, if anything, to promote 
“development of the capacity for local knowledge production.”
Public use of and attitudes toward the pressWhere does the public get its news and 
information—what new and traditional media outlets do they watch, read, or listen to? 
What does the public think about the press? How much credibility do opposition,  
government, and independent news outlets have?
Conducting reliable public opinion research in the region is challenging due to problems with 
accessibility of potential respondents, reluctance to participate, and the trustworthiness of the 
results. However, successful survey research has occurred. For example, Lubin and Joldasov 
surveyed Kazakhstanis about environmental problems.
 Wooden conducted surveys in 
Kyrgyzstan on environmental issues and conducted parallel elite interviews about relationships 
among governmental responsiveness, elite perceptions, and public opinion.
 The International 
Republican Institute and its partners surveyed public attitudes in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan 
about such matters as policy issues, corruption, religious extremism, and politics; media-related 
questions included respondents’ sources of news, Internet use, and media credibility. Their 
findings
 of a comparatively high level of public confidence in the media in both countries 
suggests such further research questions as: Why does the press rate so highly despite partisan 
and government influences of content, self-censorship, and journalists’ difficulty in getting 
access to information about public affairs and events that may embarrass the regime? 
29
 S. Aksartova, “Interviewing NGO Leaders in Bishkek,” Central Eurasian Studies 
Review, No.  2 (2), 2003, pp. 14-15.
30
 N. Lubin, A. Joldasov, “Central Asians take stock, part II: Comparison of results from 
public opinion survey, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, 1993 & 2007,” National Council for 
Eurasian and East European Research, 2009.
31
 A. Wooden, “Environmental concern and popular ‘mobilizability’ in Kyrgyzstan: 
Identifying public opinion, elite perceptions, conflict potential and political will,” paper 
presented to the Central Eurasian Studies Society, 2009, Toronto.
32
 International Republican Institute, Baltic Surveys Ltd./Gallop Organization, Agency 
SIAR-Bishkek, and U.S. Agency for International Development, “Kyrgyzstan national opinion 
poll, April 22-May 9, 2009,” 2009; International Republican Institute, Baltic Surveys Ltd./Gallop 
Organizationand Institute of Polling and Marketing, “Kazakhstan national opinion poll, May 9-
23, 2009,” 2009.
11


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