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 2: The Deliberating Public and Deliberative Polls
The Deliberating Public and Deliberative Polls
Since the first scientific studies of public opinion were conducted, survey researchers and democratic theorists alike have pondered the central concept of public opinion and its relationship to mass survey data (Price & Neijens, 1997). Early theorists of public opinion framed it as an emergent product of broad discussion—emanating ideally from a debate open to wide popular participation, free-flowing and uncensored, and well-informed (Lasswell, 1941). However, early scientific analysts (e.g., Allport, 1937) found the concept of public opinion as an ‘emergent product’ of discussion difficult to grasp empirically and problematic in a number of respects, and over time they came to accept mass survey data as the only workable empirical expression of public opinion ...