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.



It seems implausible that a good measure of what is happening in a whole population can be obtained by examining only a tiny fraction of that population. The theory and practice of sampling underpin this claim. Sampling is the process of selecting a subset of a population; inference consists of using the measurements on that subset to make statements about the population as a whole. This chapter presents the rationale behind sampling and inference from samples, briefly traces its history, and describes the main procedures for sampling for face-to-face surveys and telephone surveys today.

This chapter consists of four sections. The first section presents my seven maxims of sampling, which serve as a foundation for the principles involved. The following two sections cover sampling for ...

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