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 6: The Internet as a New Platform for Expressing Opinions and as a New Public Sphere
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. ...