By Justin Lewis
Is polling a approach that brings "science" into the research 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 received expanding significance with every one new election or ballot taken. right here Lewis offers a brand new examine an previous culture, the 1st examine of opinion polls utilizing an interdisciplinary process combining cultural stories, sociology, political technological know-how, and mass conversation. instead of disregarding polls, he considers them to be an important kind of illustration in modern tradition; he explores how the media record on polls and, in flip, how publicized effects impact the best way humans reply to polls. Lewis argues that the media are likely to exclude the extra innovative facet of renowned opinion from public debate. whereas the media's impression is restricted, it really works strategically to take care of 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
Sufﬁce it to say, at this point, that there is an increasing realization among some of those working within the opinion or quantitative survey traditions that if we are to make sense of the opinions represented in polls, why numbers matter and why we should be suspicious of them 17 we need to explore the discursive conditions — the knowledge, assumptions, and forms of articulation — that make them possible and give them their meaning. Polling and Authorship While dabbling in various notions of social construction, opinion research often operates in a social vacuum, looking at public opinion as an almost pregiven category (albeit one that may be “tainted” by such things as media inﬂuence) rather than something shaped and buffeted by a range of social forces.
Plato’s work offers a well-known counterpoint to this view: Plato saw the citizenry as wayward and malleable, and his conception of episteme—or universal knowledge—was quite separate from mere doxa — opinion. The former was the property of philosophers, the latter, the untrained caprice of the populace. But both Aristotle and Plato had conceptions of the public realm that were informed by a social structure in which an active citizenry had the means to express itself. Both conceptions were also limited by the nature of that realm: as a category, “the public” left out a majority of the population.
The ratings system does not tell us whether people are moved, inspired, enlightened, amused, or engaged by television programs; commercial television companies need to know little about their viewers other than whether they are watching. If the viability or sig- 18 the representation of public opinion niﬁcance of a television program is measured only in ratings, commercial television can claim to be giving people what they want without ever really asking them. Lisbeth Lipari develops this point when she argues that polls often tell us more about the assumptions of the questioner than the respondent (Lipari 1996).
Constructing Public Opinion: How Political Elites Do What They Like and Why We Seem to Go Along with It by Justin Lewis