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.

Content Analyses and Public Opinion Research


A lasting question of public opinion research concerns the relationship between public opinion and media messages: Do news media mould or mirror public opinion? Generations of scholars speculated about the direction of a hypothetical link and called for valid empirical evidence. As a matter of fact, the methodology is available for answering this question. Numerous studies have demonstrated how the relationship between public opinion and communications can be examined and specified.

This chapter begins with some examples of research settings and theoretical approaches combining public opinion research with analyses of communication content. Thereafter, the basics of content analysis methodology are briefly described. In this context, the instrumental use of the content analysis method for analyzing open-ended survey questions will also ...

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