Social Science’s national data program is a key source of information and an essential resource for social scientists and other professionals in related fields all over the United States. The data program consists of the results and findings of the nearly annual General Social Survey (GSS) that has been conducted for nearly forty years, since 1972.
It contains the most accurate and comprehensive data available on both the social characteristics of and current and changing trends in society within the United States.
Topics covered as a part of the National Data Program for Social Science include civil liberties, causes of and reactions to stress, crime and violence, morality, psychological well-being, social mobility, spending priorities and trends, tolerance within and between different groups of people, and traumatic events, how they are perceived, their impact, and how often they occur.
Hundreds of trends have been discovered and tracked through use of the General Social Survey since it came into existence and became the main data collection tool of the National Data Program for Social Science. Also, because the GSS adopted specific questions from surveys developed before it, certain trends are able to be tracked for up to seventy years.
The University of Chicago’s Social Science Research Center aided by the support of the National Science Foundation built the National Data Program from the ground up in 1972.
The project had two majors goals: 1) To conduct basic scientific research on the structural makeup and the constant development of American society, and 2) To make high quality, important, and up-to-date information and data available to social scientists, policy makers, students, and others who could benefit from the availability of this data.
Developing a major tool of data collection, the GSS, was a major step in this process and all of the data collected over the years has played a huge role in the advancement of social science research over the past few decades.
Research not only identifies and monitors social change within the United States but also serves as a tool to compare United States society and its trends to other nations around the world.
This is possible through the International Social Survey Program (ISSP), a program that was developed in 1984 after many nations had developed their own national data programs. With this data, it is possible to learn more about the world we live in and trends beyond a national level, on the world front.
To summarize, the National Data Program for Social Science is an essential tool for social science research in the United States and provides data that can help social scientists both analyze the past and present and predict and prepare for the future.
General Social Survey Web Page