Text Box: Shaping Perceptions and Attitudes to Realise the Diversity Advantage

Shaping Perceptions and Attitudes to Realise the Diversity Advantage (SPARDA)

Key points

·         The SPARDA project is a joint-programme between the Council of Europe and the European Union, running between January 2011 and June 2012

·         SPARDA is a pilot project running in seven European cities: Coimbra, Portugal; Had-Dingli, Malta; Limassol, Cyprus; Lyon, France; Patras, Greece Reggio Emilia, Italy Valencia/PACTEM Nord, Spain.

·         SPARDA is part of the Council of Europe’s activities in the field of Intercultural Dialogue, more specifically in its media and communications dimension.


The SPARDA project aims to generate evidence of the impact that local communication strategies may have on improving perception of migrants and cultural diversity. The successful integration of migrants depends to a large extent on the way they are perceived by the host community. Such perceptions are the result of a number of factors and circumstances. To a certain extent they can be influenced by public discourse and communication activities, as already occurs in a number of different contexts across Europe. However, there is a lack of evidence of the impact of such actions, which deliver the best results and why.

By measuring initial perceptions through an opinion poll, then running a campaign on the advantages of diversity for the community and finishing with another similar poll, each of the seven cities serves as a sample for the hypothesis proposed by the SPARDA project.

Questions and Answers

How does the SPARDA methodology work?

Running simultaneously in 7 different locations, the 18 months project has three phases: In the first, a survey is conducted by independent social research institute IPSOS to explore perceptions towards migrants and cultural diversity and to gather baseline data on opportunities for encountering difference and the advantages of diversity. Using this data and a contextual analysis of each location, the Council of Europe runs a media and diversity training seminar in the seven different cities, to help the local partners develop their communication strategies.

In the second phase, campaigns are run in the seven cities promoting the importance of integration of migrants and the advantage of their presence for the host community. A number of activities targeting the local population and the media make up the campaigns.

The last phase is the evaluation of the project. A second opinion poll is carried out by IPSOS to measure the impact of the campaigns and to assess possible shifts in perception amongst those exposed to the campaigns. The project methodology and its implementation are also evaluated by an external consultant through interviews and questionnaires for those involved in running the SPARDA project.

Why is the Council of Europe commissioning perception surveys?

The SPARDA project’s methodology is focused on evaluation of perception. In order to have an independent and objective evaluation of the impact of campaigns, it is important to have opinion polls run by an external entity such as IPSOS. The aim of the first survey run in May 2011 was to give the local partners an idea of the perceptions towards migrants amongst their population. It also provided indications for the cities on how to run their campaigns, by asking questions on places to encounter different groups of people, friendliness towards new neighbours or media usage habits.

How are the surveys conducted?

The first of the two surveys has 38 questions, with an average interview length of 20 minutes per respondent. The sample size was 200 interviews per city, with quotas set according to gender, age and employment. The interviews were done in May 2011.

The second survey will take place in spring 2012, with a sample of 275 interviews per city. Of these, 75 will be people who have been exposed to the campaigns. The Council of Europe is aware that such small samples cannot reflect national trends on attitudes towards migrants. The purpose of the surveys is to provide baseline indications for the elaboration of the cities’ strategies and their evaluation.

What are the main aspects of the Council of Europe’s migration policy?

The Council of Europe develops and promotes migration and integration policies based on Human Rights, democracy and the rule of law. It aims to promote the principles of equal treatment, tolerance and non-discrimination and to eliminate all discriminatory policies and practices that still exist in the member States. The Council of Europe strives to ensure that migration is organised in a way that strengthens social cohesion and promotes development of both countries of origin and destination.

The work of the Council of Europe in the field of migration is traditionally divided into three main areas: migration management; integration; legal status of migrants. These areas include specific issues such as developing effective channels for legal migration, promoting effective measures to integrate migrants in the labour market, and helping migrants to learn the languages of the host countries. It also addresses issues concerning particularly vulnerable groups of migrants.


Francisco Empis, Press officer

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[email protected]                                                                           Updated: July 2011