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.

Social Indicators and the Quality of Life

John P.Robinson andKenneth C.Land

Social indicators are measures of individual attitudes and other personal characteristics that can be used to evaluate individual, aggregated, and national circumstances and how they change over time. Research has been conducted for more than 40 years on the identification and measurement of appropriate social indicators, as well as work devoted to the assembly of time-series data for use in describing and explaining their relationship to human development at the individual and societal levels. This chapter summarizes the historical social indicators movement, including the recent rejuvenation of this area of research.

The Emergence of Social Indicators Research

Ferriss (1988, p. 601) defines social indicators as statistical time series ‘… used to monitor the social system, helping to ...

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