you will access from a database of opinion and attitude questions posed to a representative sample of Americans (see below for details on how to do this). You will learn how to use this survey data base, report on the results of survey question(s) and analyze the relationship between the responses to the question and what these attitudes reflect about the changing nature of American values over time. Please read the entire instructions before you begin or you won’t know how to use the survey database, which takes a bit of time to learn.
You will present your analysis following using the following organizational format:
1. Introduction: Briefly discuss the relationship between values and how they relate to attitudes about social institutions and societal concerns.
2. Body/Analysis: Describe trends or changes based on the example provided. Be sure to include the most recent data that runs up to 2016 (or later if available) in your report. See the section on “presenting the analysis” below for more specific instructions.
3. Consider the possible “contradiction” or tension in the data results (again, see below for details) in relation to American values we’ve considered and changes in American society related, for example, to sexuality, gender, rights, etc. Explain what underlying values may be in conflict here that account for the tension? Specifically, what principles of American values that we have covered may be at play in accounting for this? Look back at the Robin Williams list and especially the chapter assigned for Week 5 to help you (you should cite both). What historical events or other shifts in American society may account for the change in attitudes over time? Finally, compare your own values to survey findings from the SDA data. In what ways are these findings from a national sample of Americans relevant to your values? (not necessarily about the specific questions asked if you don’t want, but in that case, explain them in relation to what the data may say about change in American attitudes overall).
4. Conclusion: Present the highlights of your analysis and what you consider to be the major implications of your analysis in terms of a connection to the real-world.
Note: Remember from SOCY100 that a variable is any socially related phenomena that varies or changes or a category into which people may be grouped in ways that can be different from one another. For example, it may be an attitude, a belief, income, age, social class, etc. There are two major categories of variables: Independent Variables and Dependent Variables.
- The Independent Variable predicts or affects the value or level of a Dependent Variable.
- The Dependent Variable is affected by, or differs based on, the Independent Variable.
In this assignment, the Year that the survey data was collected is the Independent Variable. You will be comparing changes in survey responses for specific issues, or beliefs from year to year. Therefore, time in this case, is the independent variable (represented by changes from year to year) and attitudes or beliefs about gay people and rights are the dependent variables.
II. How to access and use Berkeley’s SDA data sets necessary to complete the above:
Follow these Steps:
- Either click on the link below or cut and paste the url in your browser: http://sda.berkeley.edu/sdaweb/analysis/?dataset=gss18
- This will bring you to the data access page. At the top of the left-hand margin there is a section entitled: “Variable Selection”. Find it first.
- Next, find the box next to word “selected” and type: YEAR
- Click on Col (column). This is the second button in from the words “Copy to:” The word Year will appear in the box for Column (more toward the middle of the page).
- Now look below the “Copy To” box at the list that begins with CASE IDENTIFICATION. Scroll down until you see “CONTROVERSIAL SOCIAL ISSUES” and click on the little arrow “>”.
- Scroll down again until you see “Family Planning, Sex, and Contraception and click on the arrow. Now, as an example, find the variable HOMOSEX (which represents responses to a question about whether American respondent believe that sex between two people of the same gender is morally wrong or not). Click on it to highlight it.
- Now, while that variable is highlighted, go back up to “Variable Selection” and click “row” button. The title of the concern should now appear in the window next to row.
- Click on “Run the Table” at the bottom of the page. A table should appear that provides percentages from 1972 – 2016 for survey responses to your chosen dependent variable.
Note: Looking at the Table, focus your attention on the rows “Always wrong” and “Not at All Wrong” and how the percentage of Americans saying each changed over time from 1973 to 2016. (Consider what values may have changed or what social events have occurred that may account for this shift).
Now repeat Steps 1-8 above, but with a couple of changes:
- Remove HOMOSEX from the Row (if you’re starting over completely, it will be empty)
- Now scroll down the list (or back up) again until you see the category “ATTITUDINAL MEASURES-NATIONAL PROBLEMS” and click on the little arrow “>”.
- Scroll down again until you see Free Speech and click on the arrow. Now, as an example, find the variable COLHOMO (which is a question about whether gay people should be able to teach in public schools). Click on it to highlight it.
- Remember to go back up to “Variable Selection” and click “row” button. The title of the concern should now appear in the window next to row.
- Ensure that YEAR is typed or entered into the Column Field.
- Click on “Run the Table” again as before.
Note: Looking at the Table, note how the percentages of people who believe that gay people should be allowed to teach in public schools has changed over time. Again, consider what change in values may be at work as these attitudes changed and consider why. Importantly, note the difference between your first table and your second. Is there a difference between the percentage of Americans who believe that sex between two people of the same gender is always wrong and the percentage who say that gay people should be allowed to teach? What underlying values may be in conflict here that account for the tension? (In other words, if a person believes homosexuality is morally wrong, you might also expect that person to believe that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to teach, but that isn’t the case, or at least not for a good portion of people who said gay people can teach but also feel that homosexual “relations” are “always wrong”). Why might that be? Specifically, what principles of American values that we have covered may be at play in accounting for this? Look back at the Robin Williams list and especially the chapter assigned for Week 5 to help you.
III. How to present the data part of your analysis:
Analysis involves reporting percentages not the raw numbers in the tables. For example, using data for Americans confidence in Congress as an example, you might write something like:
In 2016 only 5.5% of people had a great deal of confidence in congress as compared to 23.9% in 1973, whereas 52.6% and 15.7% had “hardly any” confidence in 2016 and 1973, respectively (note that the totals don’t add to 100 because the remainder said they had “only some” confidence). [How might you write this for the analyses you did?]
You should also note any interesting drops or fluctuations during the time period and consider whether there might be something that accounts for it. Note that you can also add responses that are on either side of binary (for example, you could combine “always wrong” with sometimes” wrong and just say, X% of American said that homosexual relations were “wrong” in 2016 where as X% said they were wrong in 1972 – but just explain what you did, so that your reader can understand).
Please DO NOT report every value in the chart. Describe the overall trends with some anchor points.
Please note! Navigating the variable sets, and using the survey data, will take time, practice, and patience.
Take time to familiarize yourself with the SDA site and to become more comfortable with the data-sets, and be sure to save outputs for later in case you need to come back to them!