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 Journalists toward Public Opinion Research1

David H.Weaver

Journalists are often thought in the US to have a significant influence on public opinion, especially since the advent of the media effects studies of cultivation, agenda-setting, and information processing in the 1960s and 1970s. However, not much has been reported about how journalists generally think about public opinion or the polls regularly used to measure this opinion. Whereas there have been numerous content analyses of news media coverage of polls and public opinion (→ The News Media's Use of Opinion Polls), there has been very little systematic research on journalists' opinions about public opinion or the polls used to measure it.

There is some anecdotal evidence on this subject that goes back many years, mainly from prominent ...

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