Public opinion theory and research are becoming increasingly significant in modern societies as people's attitudes and behaviors become ever more volatile and opinion poll data becomes ever more readily available. This major new Handbook is the first to bring together into one volume the whole field of public opinion theory, research methodology, and the political and social embeddedness of polls in modern societies. It comprehensively maps out the state-of-the-art in contemporary scholarship on these topics.

With over fifty chapters written by distinguished international researchers, both academic and from the commercial sector, this Handbook is designed to:

Give the reader an overview of the most important concepts included in and surrounding the term ‘public opinion’ and its application in modern social research; Present the basic empirical concepts for assessing public opinion and opinion changes in society; Provide an overview of the social, political and legal status of public opinion research, how it is perceived by the public and by journalists, and how it is used by governments; Offer a review of the role and use of surveys for selected special fields of application, ranging from their use in legal cases to the use of polls in marketing and campaigns.

The SAGE Handbook of Public Opinion Research provides an indispensable resource for both practitioners and students alike.

Mass-Observation and Modern Public Opinion Research


In Britain between 1937 and 1949, two understandings of public opinion contested the intellectual, political and social terrain. One, represented by the Gallup Poll, was the child of market research and American journalism; the other, Mass-Observation (M–O), a hybrid of British anthropology, American community studies and French surrealism. One was a business, whose public face, financed by the press, focused largely on politics and public affairs; the other, an organization made up mostly of volunteers, financially dependent on benefactors, documented attitudes to politics, but also practices, utterances and beliefs of every other kind. Both ridiculed the idea of the press making pronouncements about the state of public opinion without ‘real’ evidence; both were concerned that governments should be properly ...

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