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.

Theories on the Perception of Social Reality

William P.Eveland, Jr. andCarroll J.Glynn

Work on the concept of social reality perception is at the foundation of 20th century social scientific research, and there is no indication of a decline in academic interest in this topic in the 21st century. Importantly, this topic has drawn together researchers from across the core social sciences, including psychology, sociology, communication, and political science. The broad range of scholars working in this area has led to some confusion regarding terminology, which we attempt to clarify in this chapter. We also review the major themes of social reality perception theory and research as an introduction to other chapters later in this volume.

Defining Social Reality

The understanding of social reality has its roots in the ...

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