Standard Cross-Cultural Sample by George P. Murdock and Douglas R. White
The Standard Cross-Cultural Sample contains the best-described society in each of 186 cultural provinces
of the world chosen at a time when cultural independence is maximal: hence it is primarily a sample of
PREINDUSTRIAL societies. It is a collective series of data based on a sample selection
by George P. Murdock and Douglas R. White of 186 ethnographically well-described societies,
published in the journal ETHNOLOGY in 1969, and followed by scores of
publications by diverse authors that coded the SCCS societies for many different types of societal
characteristics. Cumulative ethnographic codes and codebooks are published in the
electronic journal which adds the geographical coordinates and computerizing mapping through
the journal's MAPTAB program, by Douglas R. White.
The SCCS variables include those in the
Ethnographic Atlas, but in a form useful for testing hypotheses,
since the cases in the sample are maximally independent.
Contrary to common opinion, neither the SCCS nor the Ethno-Atlas have anything to do with HRAF
(the Human Relations Area Files), which Murdock had founded at Yale
in the 1940s. The codes for societies in the Atlas were based on his
ethnographic readings in the Yale Library and his personal collection of
monographs and articles, although some of the sources were available in
the HRAF collection. His codes have nothing to do whatever with the
codes by which the HRAF collection indexes their materials. The Standard Sample
database classifies characteristics of the societies based on the research of different authors.
Codes can often be cross-checked across different studies for reliability.
The SCCS database currently contains over 2,000 variables coded by fifty or more different studies.
Advantages of the standard sample are:
Sufficiently large sample size to test multivariate hypotheses
Sufficiently small to allow complete coding by different authors
Standard pinpointing of dates, focal groups and bibliography for cumulative coding
Maximal independence of cases in terms of cultural and historical origin
Provision of standard Galton's problem controls for historical nonindependence of cases
Provision of multiple data quality ratings
Spss version for the standard sample database,
by William DiVale, slated for publication in World Cultures
MicroCase commercial site sells software for the standard sample