Taiwan Social Change Survey

A Brief Introduction to the Taiwan Social Change Survey
 by: Yang-chih Fu and Ying-Hwa Chang

Taiwan has witnessed profound social changes since the lift of martial law in the 1980s. The Taiwan Social Change Survey (TSCS) tracks the long-term trends of these changes and provides insight into them through national representative survey data on various topics. This website introduces the survey project and aims to enhance communication between the project team and general users. The website also serves to better disseminate all the TSCS survey data, in hope of making the best use of these data and contributing to the broader academic community.

In the mid-1980s, the National Science Council initiated the idea of archiving baseline information about Taiwanese society by surveying the general adult population through rigorous sampling designs. The result has been an interdisciplinary research project that reveals Taiwan's political, economic, social, and cultural changes, all through carefully designed questionnaire interviews. Since the first nation-wide survey completed in 1985, this long-term, cross-sectional survey project has followed 5-year cycles that rotate selective modules in order to capture the time-series of social changes. As of 2018, the TSCS has accumulated 62 surveys. Many of these surveys carry repetitive modules that have run through up to five cycles of survey operations, which enable researchers to further understand social change from longitudinal perspectives. With approximately 129,057 face-to-face interviews completed over the past 30 years, the TSCS has become one of the largest survey series among all of the general social surveys in the world.[1]

The TSCS has been based at the Academia Sinica, jointly operated by the Institute of Sociology and the Center for Survey Research. All survey data have been archived in both institutes and are available for free and instant download from their respective websites to the general public. Through this generous policy of data release, scholars and students have been able to employ the data for their research and have made significant contributions to the scholarly world. As of the end of 2018, TSCS data had been the basis for at least 624 conference papers, 679 journal articles, 212 book chapters, 453 master's theses, and 54 doctoral dissertations.

In addition to following the data release policy and an open-door policy that asks for survey modules and items from domestic scholars, the TSCS team also cooperates with the international community in designing international comparative surveys. In 1996, the TSCS participated in a three-society, comparative survey project with China and South Korea. Since 2001, the TSCS has been an active member of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), having served in questionnaire drafting groups, various method groups, the Methodology Committee, and the Standing Committee. In 2003, TSCS launched the East Asian Social Survey (EASS), along with the Japanese General Social Survey (JGSS) and the Korean General Social Survey (KGSS). The EASS later included the Chinese General Social Survey and the Hong Kong Social Indicator Survey and became a major regional survey project.

In the wave of the globalization of social surveys, not only will the TSCS continue to cover its major national research agenda, but it also will aim to present and demonstrate the characteristics of Taiwanese social changes by incorporating both ISSP and EASS modules into the surveys. Such a combination of local, regional, and global research interests should preserve the grand tradition of the TSCS while it expands into the international community.

Website last updated: August 19, 2019

[1] Smith, T.W., Kim, J., Koch, A., & Park, A. (2006). Social Science Research and the General Social Surveys. Comparative Sociology, 5(1), 33-43.