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 Uses and Misuses of Polls

Michael W.Traugott

No matter what the issue is or the method for collecting attitudes about it, the mass media have a critical role to play in conveying information about the nature of public opinion to the majority of the population. This has historically been the case because of the media's central location in the process of exchanging and communicating social and political values as well as information. But the influence of news organizations grew and became more important as they became producers as well as disseminators of public opinion data. On the one hand, public opinion data are a means by which the mass media can establish and maintain contact with their audience members, by providing a conduit for the ...

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