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.

Survey Non-Response

Adam J.Berinsky

Sometimes, the information we do not collect on surveys is as important as the information we do collect. In recent years, social scientists and professional pollsters have paid increasing attention to survey non-response. In this chapter, I review current literature on this phenomenon and point to some areas of future inquiry.

When we speak of survey non-response, we are in fact, speaking of two distinct but related phenomena: unit non-response and item non-response. Unit non-response occurs when an entire observation unit is missing from our sample (Lohr, 1999). In the context of survey research, unit non-response occurs when we have no information about a respondent selected to be in our sample. Item non-response, on the other hand, occurs when some measurements are present ...

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