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.

Knowledge and Attitudes

Penny S.Visser,AllysonHolbrook and Jon A.Krosnick

The simple notion that citizens elect representatives who implement policies with which they agree is central to democratic theory. In this way, all citizens can pursue their own interests as well as the interests of the common good in an orderly and efficient way. According to many political theorists, this simple process enables democratic governments to maintain stability and legitimacy.

On close inspection, however, this process is far from simple. It depends critically on a number of fairly demanding steps. It first requires that at least a substantial majority of citizens carefully attend to political events on the local, state, and national stages. Further, citizens must consolidate the constant stream of political information provided by the news media, advocacy ...

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