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.

Panel Surveys


Panel surveys measure the same variables with identical individuals at several points in time. They thus obtain longitudinal data that could also be collected via normal trend studies—based on similarly composed samples that are freshly recruited for each survey. Of course, both panel studies and trend studies are equally adept at measuring net change over time. Yet panel studies further enable the researcher to investigate the full extent and direction of the changes—along with the various processes that have contributed to the overall change. Thus, panels reveal how many people changed their position or opinion at all, whether their position changed moderately or substantially, and which new position replaced the old one. In addition, panels allow us to establish which factors either encourage ...

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