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.

Spiral of Silence Theory

Dietram A.Scheufele

Formulated by Noelle-Neumann in the early 1970s, the spiral of silence theory is one of the most prominent theoretical models of opinion formation and consensus building in modern societies. Since its initial formulation, there have been more than three decades of research testing the key hypotheses of the theory and also its implicit assumptions. This chapter provides an overview of Noelle-Neumann's original work and critically discusses challenges to the theory and related follow-up research. It also highlights the continued importance of the spiral of silence model in public opinion research.

The spiral of silence model assumes that people are constantly aware of the opinions of people around them and adjust their behaviors (and potentially their opinions) to majority trends under the ...

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