A Comparative Study of Attitudes Towards the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan in Five European Countries

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Henrik ANDERSEN, University of Kaiserslautern, Germany
Jochen MAYERL, University of Kaiserslautern, Germany
This paper looks at determinants of attitudes towards the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan and compares findings between five European countries, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland.

We approach the topic of support or disapproval of military missions from an attitudinal standpoint using Ajzen and Fishbein’s Theory of Planned Behavior. Taking the hierarchal nature of attitudes into account, we look at more diffuse attitudes about the role of the country’s military as well as specific beliefs concerning the ISAF mission to explain overall support for it.

Our analysis of random population samples conducted by telephone in summer and fall 2016 in five European countries (each n=1000) sheds light on different causal explanations of support for the military mission in the various countries. We use multigroup SEM, taking measurement equivalence into account, and draw attention to concerns regarding the generalizability of research findings in terms of:

  1. testing the application of ‘universal’ theories in specific countries or subsamples
  2. replicating studies at later points in time
  3. the tenability of results even of ‘representative’ surveys and the need for more replication studies

This paper provides grounds for discussing the issue of generalizability and the testing of ‘universal’ social theories as well as presents substantive findings regarding the explanation of public support for the ISAF mission in several European countries. As such, it should provide for a better understanding of the country-specific generation of public opinion.