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.

Public Opinion Research in Emerging Democracies


As late as the 1878 Berlin Conference, Western geographers knew more about the topography of the moon than the interior of Africa (Pakenham, 1991). Yet as late as the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, much the same thing could be said about social scientists' knowledge of ordinary Africans. As scholars of political behavior scrutinized virtually every aspect of the opinions and behaviors of American and European voters, we knew virtually nothing about the values, preferences or knowledge of the mass of humanity living in Africa—and indeed throughout the developing post colonial world—even though much of this world stood on the precipice of breaking its authoritarian chains and embarking on a wide range of democratic experiments.

One would not have ...

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