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Public Opinion Polling

Thomas Petersen


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The term “public opinion polling” generally refers collectively to both the representative → survey method and to the institutes that specialize in employing this method, particularly to commercial survey institutes. Other terms commonly employed in this context are: “public opinion research,” “survey research,” or simply, if somewhat confusingly, → “ public opinion .” The term “demoscopy” (Greek: “observation of the public”), originally suggested by American scientist Stuart Dodd ( Dodd 1946 ), is also commonly used in some European countries, particularly in connection with political debate, although it has not gained a foothold in English-speaking countries. Along with media content analysis (→ Content Analysis, Quantitative ), the laboratory experiment (→ Experiment, Laboratory ), and participant → observation , public opinion polling is one of the most important tools in empirical communication research. Survey research serves as a vital source of information in the social sciences, as well as in the areas of market research, media research, and the political sphere. The three cornerstones of survey research are: the standardization of the investigative technique, i.e., completing → interviews using a firmly worded questionnaire; analyzing the findings in aggregate, in other words, observing respondents as a group, not as individuals; and the random selection of respondents ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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