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.

The Start of Modern Public Opinion Research

Hans L.Zetterberg

For centuries, elite opinions have been gauged by messengers or spies, or by searching letters, diaries, or pamphlets. Opinions of illiterate masses, to the extent they were not totally ignored, had been gauged by thumbs ups or thumbs downs in local stadiums and rinks. Countrywide public opinion polling of the general population by statistical methods has a shorter history. It is a child of the American newspaper world, born in the 1930s. In this chapter, we meet the launching actors, their ideas about the nature and use of opinion reporting, and their methods of researching opinions. We sketch the expansion of opinion research into the universities, and its worldwide expansion after World War II.

Opinion Polls: A New ...

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