To measure the fluctuations of political concepts, Professor Pool and his colleagues traced the flow of symbols in newspaper editorials of the "prestige papers" in Britain, France, Germany, the Soviet Union, and the United States from 1890 to 1950. Counting editorials containing each of several hundred key symbols, the study documents some interesting trends in contemporary belief systems and related social phenomena—particularly those pertaining to democracy and authoritarianism, nationalism and internationalism, violence and peace, "self" and "other."
Some of these trends have become even more evident today. For instance, Professor Pool in his Introduction to this new edition notes an increased emphasis on symbols relating to mass participation in democracy; a growing focus on violence in American society; and a continuing trend toward nationalism in the Soviet Union. On the other hand, Pool's investigation found that the other countries studied are paying increased attention to the outside world.
This early study exemplifies the research techniques developed in precomputer days, but Pool indicates that they can be readily adapted to new procedures of quantitative analysis. Since the advent of computers has revived interest in content analysis, the book will prove useful in related applications in the fields of sociology, political science, and international relations.
This is the eleventh volume in the M.I.T. Comparative Politics Series. Harold D. Lasswell and Daniel Lerner, general editors of the series, write in the new foreword that "The present volume is a welcome addition to the series because it illustrates with particular point our editorial interest in the continuity of empirical research on the historical context of current issues of public policy as they arise from the continuing 'world revolution of our time.'"