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.

The News as a Reflection of Public Opinion

Thomas E.Patterson

‘Public opinions must be organized for the press if they are to be sound, not by the press as is the case today.’ The US journalist Walter Lippmann (1922, p. 19) thus stated what he believed was a defective tendency in the practice of democracy. Since then, the tendency has intensified. The news media are no longer asked just to keep an eye out for wrongdoing and to help keep citizens abreast of public affairs. They are expected also to take a lead role in organizing public debate—a function that traditionally has been the responsibility of political organizations and institutions.

Can the media carry this burden? Can they organize public opinion in a meaningful way? Many journalists ...

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