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.
Chapter 9: Mass-Observation and Modern Public Opinion Research
Mass-Observation and Modern Public Opinion Research
In Britain between 1937 and 1949, two understandings of public opinion contested the intellectual, political and social terrain. One, represented by the Gallup Poll, was the child of market research and American journalism; the other, Mass-Observation (M-O), a hybrid of British anthropology, American community studies and French surrealism. One was a business, whose public face, financed by the press, focused largely on politics and public affairs; the other, an organization made up mostly of volunteers, financially dependent on benefactors, documented attitudes to politics, but also practices, utterances and beliefs of every other kind. Both ridiculed the idea of the press making pronouncements about the state of public opinion without ‘real’ evidence; both were concerned ...