The Center for the Study of Politics and Society (CSPS) focuses on the investigation of societal change. The National Data Program for the Social Sciences is the CSPS’s largest component and its major activity is the regular collection and distribution of the General Social Survey (GSS) and its allied surveys in the International Social Survey Program. The well-respected GSS, which has been conducted 31 times since 1972, tracks and develops models to explain societal change.
The National Data Program for the Social Sciences (NDPSS) is a highly productive social indicators, infrastructure, and data-diffusion program. It has three basic purposes:
- Gathering data on American society in order to monitor and explain trends and constants in attitudes, behaviors, and attributes.
- Gaining fresh perspectives on American society by comparing the United States to other societies, and developing cross-national models of understanding human society.
- Making high-quality data easily accessible to scholars, students, and others with minimal cost and waiting.
The NDPSS accomplishes all of these purposes through its work with the GSS and the International Social Survey Program (ISSP).
In 1984 the NDPSS and NORC co-founded the ISSP, which has conducted annual surveys from 1985 to the present and has had 60 participating countries. Other cross-national research includes the International Mental Health Stigma Study and studies of terrorist attacks in the U.S. and Spain. In 2016-2017, a cross-national study on hope and optimism is underway in the India, the Philippines, South Africa ,the United States, Korea and Venezuela.
The CSPS also carries out considerable research on religion in general and religious change in particular. The work of the late Andrew Greeley on the sociology of religion includes research on evangelicals, images of God, trends in belief in life after death, and many other aspects. Tom W. Smith has done studies on the incidence and nature of spiritual transformations, the decline of Protestantism in the U.S., and religious change around the world.