By Justin Lewis
Is polling a strategy that brings "science" into the examine of society? Or are polls crude tools that let us know little in regards to the means humans really imagine? The position of public opinion polls in govt and mass media has won expanding significance with each one new election or ballot taken. right here Lewis offers a brand new examine an outdated culture, the 1st research of opinion polls utilizing an interdisciplinary method combining cultural reports, sociology, political technological know-how, and mass verbal exchange. instead of pushing aside polls, he considers them to be an important type of illustration in modern tradition; he explores how the media document on polls and, in flip, how publicized effects effect the way in which humans reply to polls. Lewis argues that the media are inclined to exclude the extra revolutionary aspect of well known opinion from public debate. whereas the media's impact is proscribed, it really works strategically to keep up the ability of pro-corporate political elites.
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Additional info for Constructing Public Opinion: How Political Elites Do What They Like and Why We Seem to Go Along with It
Knowledge, or assumption, is veriﬁable in a way that opinion is not. This is not to invoke notions of universal or eternal truth, merely to assert that it is possible to use systems of truth and falsity to classify statements of knowledge. Opinions, on the other hand, are generally classiﬁed in political or moral terms. But, while the two realms are distinct, they are not mutually exclusive. Statements of fact do exist independently of a political or moral realm, and opinions are informed by what we believe to be certain facts.
Polls indicating rapidly growing public concern about drugs in the middle to late 1980s were an intrinsic part of an upward spiral of media coverage and institutional response, each one playing off the other in complete disregard of fairly stable statistics on drug use (Reeves and Campbell 1994). If the drug “crisis” diminished by the end of the 1980s after President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in a dramatic escalation of the “war on drugs,” its residual who’s in and who’s out 35 effects on police operations and more draconian sentencing have had profound and lasting effects on the prison population and on depopulated communities.
One could argue, as James Carey does, that the “decline and dismissal of the public sphere, paradoxically, corresponded to the emergence of public opinion and the apparatus of the polling industry” (Carey, 1992, 11). There are undoubtedly ways in which the shift to more technocratic and, in theory, democratic notions of the public was less radical a break from the Enlightenment commitment to a rational, educated class than it might have initially appeared. It is possible to identify in contemporary models of public opinion polling at least four traces of the classbound constraints of the eighteenth-century conception.
Constructing Public Opinion: How Political Elites Do What They Like and Why We Seem to Go Along with It by Justin Lewis