Constructing Public Opinion: How Political Elites Do What They Like and Why We Seem to Go Along with It / Edition 1

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Overview

Is polling a process that brings "science" into the study of society? Or are polls crude instruments that tell us little about the way people actually think? The role of public opinion polls in government and mass media has gained increasing importance with each new election or poll taken.

Here Lewis presents a new look at an old tradition, the first study of opinion polls using an interdisciplinary approach combining cultural studies, sociology, political science, and mass communication. Rather than dismissing polls, he considers them to be a significant form of representation in contemporary culture; he explores how the media report on polls and, in turn, how publicized results influence the way people respond to polls. Lewis argues that the media tend to exclude the more progressive side of popular opinion from public debate. While the media's influence is limited, it works strategically to maintain the power of pro-corporate political elites.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

International Journal of Public Opinion Research

Very well written and shows that cultural studies and quantitative data are not necessarily incompatible.

Booknews
Though Lewis (communication, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst) writes that he sees opinion polls as "like the faces plastered on the sides of billboards<-->obvious and yet enigmatic, loud without depth," he also confesses that he has always been an ardent consumer of them. His study attempts to understand what polls are in a social and cultural sense, what they signify about ideology, and how they might be used to question the ideologies of political and economic elites rather than validate them. The book's first section deals with how public opinion is constructed, through the technology of polling and by the news media that report and interpret surveys. Its second section examines the roles played by the media and political elites in shaping public opinion as signified through polls. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231117678
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Justin Lewis is professor of communication at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPart One: The Representation of Public Opinion 1. Why Numbers Matter and Why We Should Be Suspicious of Them2. Who's In and Who's Out: Public Opinion as a Cultural Form3. Suppressing Dissent: The Media Representation of Public OpinionPart Two: The Formation of Public Opinion 4. Getting the Right Response? Media Influence on Public Opinion5. What Are Opinions and Where Do They Come From?6. The Ideology of Assumptions7. Flickering the Embers of Consent: Public Opinion and the Military Industrial Complex8. Selling Unrepresentative DemocracyConclusion: Hegemony and Its DiscontentsAppendix

Columbia University Press

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