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.

Attitudes of the Public toward Public Opinion Research and Polling


The public's sentiment and general understanding of survey research and polling is a topic that joins fundamental principles of democracy with a rapidly changing communication and research environment. With these changes have come significant challenges to those who use surveys as a public research tool. Several cautions surround our interpretation of public opinions on polls, as favorability and selection bias commingle with more standard problems of low response rates and non-response error.

This chapter reviews the public's evaluation of public opinion, primarily represented as polls. It presents the current state of our knowledge in layers. First, it accounts for the best data resources to date and provides a baseline summary of public opinion on polls. Next, ...

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