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 Media's Use of Opinion Polls


‘The polls have changed journalism, just as the organization of press associations did, just as the advent of half-tone photo engravings did, just as the rise of the columnists and commentators did.’ Thus euphorically wrote Eugene Meyer, publisher of the Washington Post in 1940 (p. 240). The Post was the first subscriber of the Gallup Poll, marking the beginning of a new era for the relationship between journalists and pollsters. Today, public opinion polls are an integral component of news coverage. ‘Polls are newsworthy: they are topical, relate directly to issues in the news, are up-to-the-moment’ (Paletz et al., 1980). They serve many functions: as information sources, as attention-getters, and as a source of journalistic power (Frankovic, 1998, ...

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