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.

Assessing Long-Term Value Changes in Societies


In public opinion research, interest is often focused on the topics of the day. Opinion change is not always a relevant concern, and long-term trends receive even less attention. Single results will, however, become more interesting if they can be seen in relation to a wider framework of changing values and attitudes in society. This chapter deals with how to collect and analyze survey data to assess long-term trends in public opinion.

Values in Public Opinion Research

Since the pioneering voter study The People's Choice (Lazarsfeld, Berelson, & Gaudet, 1944), social background variables like gender, age, education, and occupation have played a central role in survey analyses of political behavior. Subsequent electoral studies like The American Voter (Campbell, Converse, Miller, & ...

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