The General Social Survey (GSS) is a nationally representative interview survey of the United States adult population that collects data on a wide range of topics: behavioral items such as group membership and participation; personal psychological evaluations including measures of well-being, misanthropy, and life satisfaction; attitudinal questions on such public issues as crime and punishment, race relations, gender roles, and spending priorities; and demographic characteristics of respondents and their parents. The GSS has provided data on contemporary American society since 1972, serving as a barometer of social change and trends in attitudes, behaviors, and attributes of the United States adult population. In 1984, the GSS stimulated cross-national research by collaborating with Australia, Britain, and Germany to develop data collection programs modeled on the GSS. This program of comparative cross-national research, called the International Social Survey Program (ISSP), now includes 43 nations and enables researchers and analysts to place findings and trends from the United States within a comparative context.
Since its inception, the GSS has completed 32 in-person, cross-sectional surveys of the adult household population of the United States with response rates that exceed 60 percent. The survey is currently fielded biennially. Data from the GSS are made available to scholars, students and the public for research, analysis and educational activities within 12 months of data collection.
Several innovations have been initiated over the past 15 years, most of which warrant continuation. Beginning with the 2006 administration, the GSS "core" questions (items that appear regularly on surveys) were translated into Spanish and administered in either English or Spanish, as needed. The 2016 survey contained an Internet mode experiment. To enable linkage to secondary data, since 2018 respondents have been asked for permission to link to selected administrative records. Post-stratification weights have been introduced for the 2020 survey.
The Sociology Program in the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences expects to make one award for the next four-year funding cycle, fiscal years 2021-2024, to support the 2022 and 2024 GSS and the U.S. component of the ISSP survey. We anticipate an award in the range of $14 million and at most $16 million over four years to support two waves of data collection, dissemination activities, and outreach. The expected starting date is August 2021.
Joseph M. Whitmeyer