Socio-Cultural Developments (SOCON)

SOCON 1985 - 2000

Theoretical relevance
At the start of the SOCON surveys, by the end of the seventies, researchers were fascinated by secularization theory (Weber) and integration theory (Durkheim). These general theories were used to derive hypotheses from to be tested empirically in the Dutch context. The focus was on crucial problems like (1) the extent to which the process of secularisation would go on in the Netherlands, in terms of decreasing (christian) beliefs and decreasing integration within religious institutions; (2) the extent to which decreasing integration within religious institutions would affect values, norms and everyday social behavior.

These classic questions have over time been adapted to many contemporary substantial domains, like the relations between religiosity on the one hand and on the other hand values, political ideologies, volunteering for in-groups, exclusion of ethnic out-groups, lifestyles, and other topics of scientific and social interests. Answers to these questions have been founded on classic and contemporary theoretical insights and operationalised such as to test these insights rigorously, providing theoretical and empirical progress, particularly related to major social problems on sociale cohesion and rationalization. These studies have appeared in numerous outlets. The representative data are indispensable for research on secularisation and, more in general, for research on individualisation.

Methodological quality
The SOCON surveys are important multi-user trend data bases for the social sciences in the Netherlands. These surveys have been collected since 1980 every 5 years as a representative cross-section of the Dutch population. Much attention has been paid to the training of the interviewers, high response rates and the cleaning of the data. In the SOCON questionnaires, only already tested, valid and reliable measurements are included.

SOCON has started in 1979 (n=1,007), followed up in 1985 (n=3,003) with exact replications of measurements and inclusion of more substantial measurements for multi-user purposes in 1990 (n=2,384), 1995 (n=2,019), 2000 (n=1,008) en 2005 (n=1,375). The design of the sample (2-stage random sampling), the way of questioning (face to face interviews at home) and other methodological issues have remained unchanged in order to guarantee longitudinal comparisons. Next to repeated cross-sections, there have been 2-wave panel surveys (in 1985-1990 and 1995-2005) and, moreover, respondents in ‘older’ surveys have been approached with similar and newly tested measurements to ascertain stability and change at the individual. Moreover, additional follow-up studies have been organised with in-dept qualitative interviews on particular issues.

In recent surveys (2000 and 2005), innovative experimental designs have been incorporated in the questionnaires for specific, politically sensitive, issues.

SOCON is foremost a national study, however, with an international outreach. Numerous measurements have been taken over in other surveys in the Netherlands (Nederlands Kiezers Onderzoek, God in Nederland), in other countries (ALLBUS of ZUMA in Germany, ISPO kiezersonderzoeken in Vlaanderen, in South-Afrika, Ireland, Suriname). Moreover, SOCON has frequently been used for its measurements in international comparative research (in ISSP 1993 and ISSP 1996; Religious and Moral Pluralism 1997; and the European Social Survey 2002).

SOCON surveys have been standardised and provided to the general research community, accompanied with detailed codebooks, Religion in Dutch society data documentations. These surveys are available at DANS online via NESSTAR: SOCON 1979 (DANS code: P0875), SOCON 1985 (P1012), SOCON 1990 (P1100), SOCON 1995 (P1336), SOCON 2000 (P1556), SOCON panel 1985-1990 (P1101), SOCON 1979-85-90 (P1099), SOCON 1979-2000 (P1655).

Societal importance
On SOCON data, numerous publications have appeared in several outlets. Although we lack exact and recent numbers, we are sure of the publication of (over) 30 books, 25 PhD dissertations, 85 international journal contributions, 60 national journal contributions, 12 data documentation books, 7 edited volumes, 95 contributions to (inter-) national books, excluding numerous contributions based on SOCON data by othere researchers in cross-national and longitudinal trend studies. Some SOCON publications have been distinguished with (inter-) national prices (Fritz Thyssen award, SNS bank award). These data provide contributions to societal debates and priority themes of the national government.

Contact information: Peer Scheepers, Rob Eisinga, Gerbert Kraaykamp.

Here you may find information about the datasets

SOCON 1985 (P1012)
SOCON 1990 (P1100) SOCON 1990 (P1100)
SOCON 1995 (P1336) SOCON 1995 (P1336)
SOCON 2000 (P1556) SOCON 2000 (P1556)
SOCON cumulative file 1979-2000 (P1656)

Datasets are available via DANS under the numbers listed in parentheses.