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.

The Start of Modern Public Opinion Research

The start of modern public opinion research

For centuries, elite opinions have been gauged by messengers or spies, or by searching letters, diaries, or pamphlets. Opinions of illiterate masses, to the extent they were not totally ignored, had been gauged by thumbs ups or thumbs downs in local stadiums and rinks. Countrywide public opinion polling of the general population by statistical methods has a shorter history. It is a child of the American newspaper world, born in the 1930s. In this chapter, we meet the launching actors, their ideas about the nature and use of opinion reporting, and their methods of researching opinions. We sketch the expansion of opinion research into the universities, and its worldwide expansion after World ...

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