The NHK Monthly Report on Broadcast Research
Online ISSN : 2433-5622
Print ISSN : 0288-0008
ISSN-L : 0288-0008
The International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) Analyzing the World with Its Cross–national Surveys
The Significance and the Challenges
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2020 Volume 70 Issue 11 Pages 36-48


The NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute is a member of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), a research group conducting cross–national surveys. From a perspective of an NHK researcher engaging in this project the author reports an outline of the ISSP surveys, as well as the significance and the challenges. The ISSP was established in 1984, and since then research institutions of about 40 countries and regions have been conducting annual opinion surveys on common topics, using common questions. The NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute joined the ISSP in 1993 as a member representing Japan and has carried out surveys on a vast range of topics such as “Role of Government,” “Social Inequality,” and “Family and Changing Gender Roles.” A notable characteristic of the ISSP is that one same topic is surveyed every 10 years, which allows not only cross–national comparison but also cross–time comparison with past results from surveys held 10 years, 20 years ago to grasp chronological changes. This feature is highly appraised by researchers around the world. Each questionnaire is made through vigorous discussion among member institutions of the world; it takes three years to finalize. The author was responsible for designing the 2016 “Role of Government” survey, along with Swedish and French researchers, and our proposal of adding new question topics, “whether the government should have the right to collect personal information” and “whether it is a government's responsibility to promote equality between men and women,” were adopted in this survey. The ISSP is faced with challenges such as the underrepresentation of members from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East as well as the difficulty in securing research budget. Translating questionnaires written in British English into each native language is another challenge. Although there are various issues to solve, the ISSP will keep contributing to research around the world with its highly accurate data using samples representing each nation. It is decided that the 2021 survey will include questions relating to COVID–19, which will further enhance the expectations for and the value of the ISSP surveys.

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© 2020 NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute
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