Sociology paper

I. Personal Inventory and Comparison to Group Data (such as NORC survey)


(1)        Personal Inventory of Values: Write a list of the ten personal values that hold most importance to you.  Share this list with your assigned group.

(2)        Group Activity: In assigned class groups, determine what the “average” top three values are for your group; work with your group to prepare a brief explanation about each of the top three values.

(3)        Compare the list using one or more NORC surveys.  The General Social Survey (GSS) is widely regarded as the single best source of data on societal trends. You may locate the GSS data enclaves at

II. To access NORC’s General Social Survey Website:

  • Url: (Type this exactly as shown here to get direct access to the site.) 
  • Under Data click on Data Using SDA (1972-2000) On the Archive Page : Click on link to General Social Survey 1972-2010
  • Click on Analysis using SDA 1972-2010
  • This will bring you to the data access page. At the top of the left hand margin there is a box entitled “Variable Selection Help”.  Underneath the variable selection box Copy to: Row, Column, are listed. 
  • Type the word Year in the window next to “Selection”.
  • Scroll down the variable list below the box to Case ID and Year and click on the “>”next to it.
  • Then scroll down to Year and Click on “>”next to it.
  • Go back up to Variable Selection Help. Click on column.  You will always put Year in the column for all of your analysis with these data. The variable Year will appear in the “SDA Frequencies/Crosstabs window”.*
  • Scroll down the variable list to societal concerns and click on “>” next to it, choose a concern listed such as confidence in institutions.
  • Choose a specific institution such as business and finance and click on the red mark next to that concern.
  • Go back up to the “Variable Selection Help” box and click next to “row”. The title of the concern should appear in the window next to row.
  • Go to “Run the Table” toward the bottom of the “SDA Frequencies and Crosstabs” window and click.

A table should appear that provides percentages from 1972 – 2010 for survey responses to your chosen social concern.

*In crosstabulation tables the Independent variable always goes in the columns.  The dependent variable always goes in the rows.

Please note! Navigating the variable sets, and using the survey data, will take time and practice. Please take time to familiarize yourself with the NORC site and to become more comfortable with the datasets. 

When navigating the variable sets and using the survey data be sure to note the date of each percentage for your paper.  Your analysis should be written in complete sentences like any other narrative. Please take time to familiarize yourself with the NORC website and GSS data and become comfortable with navigating the data sets. Use the most current data available in the data sets. Data that stops in the 1980’s and 1990’s is dated and is not current. Data that is 20 to 30 years old and not updated to the 21st century does not provide information on social trends or social change.

III. Presenting your analysis (2-3 page paper):

Analysis involves reporting percentages in the tables. You also need to provide the headings and sub-headings used in the database where you found the table relevant to your values.  Here is an example of the way to present your analysis:

“Under Controversial Issues (main GSS survey heading); confidence in institutions (sub-heading-1) confidence in religious institutions (sub-heading -2).

In 2012 only 10% of people have a great deal of confidence in organized religion as compared to an average of 30% since 1972. This response peaked at 41% in 1977.”

You don’t need to type in what is in parentheses just the heading and sub-heading titles.

You can also take the highest percentage over the course of the data collection period (1972-2012) and the lowest reporting “a great deal of confidence: in organized religion.  You do not need to average the percentages.  But you must include the date for each percentage.  Find the responses to issues that make your point about your value(s) in reference to attitudes reported by a national sample of Americans.

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