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 Internet as a New Platform for Expressing Opinions and as a New Public Sphere


Until the advent of the World Wide Web (WWW) in the early 1990s, the Internet was an exclusive medium of communication, mostly used by scientists and computer experts. Plummeting prices for computer technology and user-friendly software have driven the WWW's rapid growth and broad, albeit uneven, diffusion throughout Western societies. This has enabled its commercialization and turned the formerly esoteric medium into a mass communication medium: anybody with Internet access can now participate in it. Relatively low production costs and equally low publication barriers today allow almost anybody with basic computer skills to create Web content. By September 2006, the Internet had more than a billion users, and nearly 70% ...

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