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 Use of Surveys as Legal Evidence


Courts, trademark authorities and legal representatives of companies employ survey research findings when precise information about perceptions of consumers or other groups is needed. There is hardly any other area where survey research findings have such immediate impact as when they are presented as evidence to courts, and they result in legally binding rulings and court decisions. Legal decisions, however, can only be legitimately based on survey research if data collection uses proper scientific methods and the studies are neutral, valid and understandable. This chapter gives an overview of areas where survey evidence is used, and its required methodological standards. It does this with an international perspective and illustrations of the cooperation between survey researchers and legal experts.

Areas ...

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