Portrait of a nation 2003 Reporting on the inaugural australian survey of social attitudes

placeholder triangle 1





The workshop will provide a forum to present the findings from the first Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (AuSSA) conducted in August 2003. The AuSSA is a new biennial national survey of an estimated 5,000 citizens, developed by researchers at the ACSR in conjunction with a nationwide team of experts, and conducted by the Australian Social Science Data Archive (ASSDA).

As we enter a new century, Australia has entered a period of uncertainty and introspection. Many questions are surfacing about Australia’s identity and direction, as well as its place in the world. Do Australians really think they live in the ‘lucky’ country? What do the norm of a ‘fair go’ and the mantra of ‘no worries’ mean—if anything—to contemporary Australians? Has ‘economic rationalism’ damaged the consensus that underpinned the Australian settlement? Australians are renowned for taking up new technologies faster than most other peoples—will this appetite for the new extend to gene technologies? Is the rich ethnic mix of the Australian population producing greater racism or increasing tolerance—or both?

Not surprisingly, more people are seeking considered answers to these questions. Alongside this popular interest, many Australian social scientists recognize the need for a robust and regular social survey to provide accurate information for teaching and research. Meanwhile, policy-makers increasingly aim to make policy ‘evidence-based’. However, they have had to fall back on opinion polls in the absence of a more comprehensive and rigorous account of the Australian people’s attitudes and behaviour.

The workshop will provide a forum to present the findings from the first Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (AuSSA) conducted in August 2003. The AuSSA is a new biennial national survey of an estimated 5,000 citizens, developed by researchers at the ACSR in conjunction with a nationwide team of experts, and conducted by the Australian Social Science Data Archive (ASSDA). The workshop will provide the first opportunity to publicly disseminate the findings of the survey, and will be attended by a range of eminent social scientists from Universities across Australia with skills in empirical analysis of opinion data. The papers presented will cover a wide range of topics including attitudes to government taxing and spending, criminal justice policy, family life, immigration, uses of genetic information, and the treatment of indigenous people. In addition, since AuSSA has become the official ‘carrier’ for the questions fielded by the prestigious International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), there will also be a strong focus on the issues of citizenship and national identity, the thematic concerns for the ISSP module for 2003. As well as being of interest to the academic community, it is expected that the findings presented at the workshop would have relevance to a broader audience that would include federal and state politicians and government officials, journalists, and interested members of the public.

AuSSA is Australia’s major general social science survey linking attitudes, behaviour, and demographic characteristics. Workshop participants will discuss the implications of the survey’s conduct and results for policy, social science, and Australia’s self-understanding. The workshop seeks to:

  • analyse new data about specific social problems
  • develop an overview of significant social trends
  • strengthen participants’ material for publication
  • build networks for the development of the quantitative social sciences in Australia
  • discuss future developments of AuSSA


Share this event

Quick search...