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.

Surveys by Telephone

Paul J.Lavrakas

Telephone survey methods have undergone serious methodological development only in the past 40 years. Prior to that time, the penetration (coverage) of households with telephones in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere was too low to justify use of the telephone as a representative survey sampling mode. However, by the mid-1980s household telephone coverage in the United State exceeded 90%, and telephone surveying was becoming commonplace. Even by 2005, though, there remained geographic areas—both inner city and rural—in which telephone coverage in the US was below 90%. In Europe, telephone coverage increased to 97% of all households, with two-thirds having both a wired (fixed) line and mobile service (IPSOS-INRA, 2004).

By the late 1980s, the telephone became the sampling and data collection ...

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