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Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS) Wave I (2003-2008) Project Wrap-up Meeting Held

On the afternoon of May 17th 2009, the new book release conference and summary conference of th first phase of CGSS was held in the first meeting room of Mingde Building at Renmin University of China. The major participants are vice-principal of Renmin University of China and director of NSRC(National Survey Research Center), professor Wei Yuan, investigator from National Bureau of Statistics, Wenying Wang, deputy dean of Society and Population department of Renmin University of China and principals of CGSS, professor Lulu Li, dean of department of statistics at Renmin University of China, professor Yongjin Jin, deputy director of NSRC, professor Fei Peng, head of Institute of Sociology at Chinese Academy of Social Science, professor Peilin Li, director of Chinese Social Survey Research Center at Peking University, professor Zeqi Qiu, deputy director of department of sociology at Tsinghua University, professor Yuan Shen, director of department of sociology at Fudan University, professor Xin Liu, head of Institute of Sociology at Beijing Academy of Social Science, professor Jianzhong Dai, deputy dean of school of humanities at Shanghai University, professor Wenhong Zhang. The media attending the conference are People’s Daily, Xinhua news agency, Guangming Daily, China Youth Daily, China Education Daily, Beijing News etc. .

Vice principal, Wei Yuan gave a welcome speech firstly. Then professor Lulu Li listed the situations about implementation of CGSS first phase and main findings.

Professor Zeqi Qiu congratulated to the project of CGSS. His congratulations are not only for the new book release , but also indicate that the work made by NSRC is recognized by the society. What NSRC has done is out of the control of National Bureau of Statistics and provide the public other choices. If there were more academic institutions which could do the same job, then academia would influence government, society and academia itself, allow social rationality to make choice. And, now academia has affected the public. What NSRC has done has indicated that basic researches using data or evidence has been receiving more and more recognition, which is highly important for the development of social science in China, and even has revolutionary meaning. Secondly, what NSRC has done has strong exemplary effect. The past researches, limited by the funds, are all “small survey”. What NSRC has done, however, shows that social science need the same funds as natural science, for social survey with enough funding has the same important influence on social development as natural science dose. Meanwhile, it proves that social science has left the time that social researches means “a pen and paper”, and it needs large amount of funding. If without millions of fundings, data quality from a large scale social survey is hard to be insured. But, the quality of data is the lifeblood of any academic survey. Open data from Renmin University of China made positive contributions to scholars concentrating on improving thinking and academic ability and getting out of repetitive physical work in social survey.

In the view of professor Peilin Li, the project of CGSS at Renmin University of China means a lot. The first significance is the contribution to academic accumulation; the second meaning is deepening our understanding to the huge social changes in China. Meanwhile, professor Li proposed that whether the academic world can cooperate to build our own investigation group(Professor Qiu also said that Social Research Center at Peking University makes surveys each year which lasts five months, Renmin University of China does surveys every two years, and Chinese Academy of Social Science also does surveys, if all these surveys held in a year take about ten months, then a firm survey group will be established. ).

Professor Jianzhong Dai considered that the open of social science survey data archive at Renmin University of China is just like “a free highway” that provides a “criterion” to academic studies in other institutions.

Professor Xin Liu put a premium on creative work of CGSS. First, the instruction materials provided has an inestimable value. Many of his students wrote master theses and doctoral dissertations based on CGSS 2003 data. Second, scientific and rigorous sampling design sets the best example to other researches in the same field. Third, indicators cover a wild field. Then, he put forward three advices: one is to guarantee the continuity of central questions in questionnaires for tracking researches; another is that while proving occupational catalogs, primitive descriptions about contents of various occupations should be added for the reason of supplying original data for further studies’ differentiation and integration; the final one is to build a cooperation platform, for example in Shanghai it is impossible to do a broad scale survey, but it is probably to apply for enough funds to make a multi-layer investigation in Yangtze River Delta, like country economic entity, community and household level etc. . He plans to build a survey network based on residents committee. During each surveys, he only changes households interviewed, keeping the same residents committees. In this sense, the future data in Shanghai can also be shared.

Professor Wenhong Zhang set values on CGSS using three sentences. CGSS at Renmin University of China is the first local continuous social survey, the first data archive open to the public, and the first interdisciplinary and front survey. From the single CGSS to NRC, it is a great progress for the combination of multiple disciplines and departments improves the values of research and cultivates talents. This research has not only academic meaning but also values on a good reference for politics. Two suggestions were gave: firstly, may sampling frames from Chinese Academy of Social Science and Renmin University of China be shared? Secondly, set up a committee of experts among academic institutions to mainly discuss issues about sampling design.

Professor Yuan Shen believed that CGSS of Renmin University of China may be a turning point of Chinese sociology research. Moreover, he said if Tsinghua University conducts similar survey research, he will be willing to join the cooperation group to push the development of social science.

After reading , Wenying Wang, investigator from National Bureau of Statistics, felt exciting and happy and that Renmin University of China did a great meaningful job. The significance lies not only in making such many valuable reports, but also in the data itself. Business surveys, like Horizon Research, are fine, but such serious, scientific, independent social survey is more strict and has further meaning. The so-called authority is to provide a liable product in constant practices and in this sense Renmnin University of China made a good beginning. Although there are some problems with to the content of survey, he hopes that Renmin University of China can stick to it.