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 Methodological Strengths and Weaknesses of Survey Research

Herbert F.Weisberg

Survey research is a technique that is well designed for assessing the prevalence and distribution of attitudes, as well as factual material about respondents. It has both strengths and weaknesses in comparison to other techniques for measuring public opinion.

Surveys measure the attitudes of a population of interest. In particular, scientific sample surveys ask questions of a sample of members of that population, taking enough interviews to be able to generalize to that larger population and trying to minimize nonresponse by people included in the sample, while using tested methods to measure the attitudes of respondents. Each part of this definition calls attention to a different challenge for surveys: the choice of respondents, the minimizing of nonresponse, ...

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