Its subject, after all, is the theoretical basis for political legitimacy in a modern democracy. In short, the world of opinion is formed from interconnections of knowledge, beliefs, and assumptions. More importantly, we have to acknowledge that the moment we begin the process of sorting and categorizing qualitative data, we are treading, ever so lightly, into the world of numbers. The answer involves a very particular form of hegemony, one that often fails to win consent for many aspects of a procorporate ideological program but that engenders just enough support for what Tony Bennett refers to as the political rationale of the system as a whole Bennett 1995 , thereby sustaining the system without too much pressure for democratic reform. It is also apparent that many of those in qualitative fields are unaware of the volume of critical work by those closer to quantitative traditions. In brief, I hope those on the left will find this book useful. For the Republicans, Melania Trump, a Slovenian immigrant with an extensive modeling career, which became a major flashpoint during the course of the Republican presidential nomination contest, cast a very different profile than her predecessors.
It is not, however, offered as the precursor to a rejection of the use of surveys but rather as a means for establishing the specific and limited ways in which those surveys might be useful. The film takes a sustained and critical look at the rise and influence of public opinion polls in American politics, and examines the relationship between politics, media and the public. My approach, throughout, is interdisciplinary, drawing from work in sociology, political science, mass communications, and cultural studies, although it is only in the last two of these that I can claim any kind of expertise. In order to make sense of this research, I argue that we need to distinguish between different forms of influence. Again, a comprehensive reading of public opinion polls suggests that military spending is routinely regarded by most people as a much lower priority than areas like education or the environment. The role of public opinion polls in government and mass media has gained increasing importance with each new election or poll taken. While these moments are limited, they are nonetheless instrumental in maintaining a degree of public acquiescence to the procorporate, center-right hegemony in U.
In so doing, what was once meandering and imprecise is pushed into a world governed by a series of inarguable mathematical truths. It takes soft, rambling, shambling views of the world and turns them into hard figures and percentages. When empirical work has been done, less intrusive, more qualitative methods—such as the focus group interview or more ethnographic forms of inquiry—are invariably preferred e. Chapter four then proceeds to lay out the central framework for the analyses that follow. Lewis argues that the media tend to exclude the more progressive side of popular opinion from public debate. Military Omissions This section develops the idea that media not only cover public opinion, but also influence it.
The technology of polling and the people who design and program that technology are seen as technocrats rather than cultural producers. This chapter outlines the scope of the study, which explores public evaluations of presidential candidate spouses across three decades, from the 1988 presidential election through the 2016 presidential election, and discusses the major sources of public opinion data including the American National Election Studies as well as the Roper Center for Public Opinion. Media Influence on Public Opinion 5. And in a culture where science is often elevated above the petty squabbles of history and ideology, this gives the pollster a degree of power and authority. Chapter two develops this point, arguing that the notion of public opinion has always involved including some people and excluding others, and that despite the claim that polls represent everyone, the public opinions they construct exclude a range of ideas or populations. The section ends with these questions: If, as we so often hear, politicians do only what the polls tell them to do, then how is this mismatch between popular sentiment and mainstream policy possible? The general technology of data production does not automatically prescribe or determine the meaning of the data. The opinion survey was an appropriate tool with which to begin to make sense.
My efforts to turn that lingering sense into something more tangible gradually became a preoccupation, a development of my interest in audiences and media and political power rather than a tangential diversion. Favored by empiricists and positivists—people who believe an objective world will simply reveal itself in columns and percentages—the honest toil of number-crunching is interpreted as a signifier of empiricism itself, dismissed with little more than the patronizing wave of a hand. The position of public opinion polls in govt and mass media has received expanding significance with every one new election or ballot 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. As a result, the 2016 candidate spouses were the least well liked of all candidate spouses over the past three decades.
Or are polls crude instruments that tell us little about the way people actually think? Most analysts make their broad methodological choices based on what they like doing Kritzer 1996, 25. This does not mean, however, that these two moments are equivalent. Overall, research suggests that media influence is widespread but not absolute or inexorable. They are, in this sense, ideological formations with particular inferences. Like many such efforts, it runs the risk of irritating those who approach some of the questions raised here from within specific disciplines. Political Perceptions: This section begins to explore reasons for the discrepancy between popular support for liberal policies and the more conservative policies pursued by representatives.
In most opinion surveys, it is the questioner who establishes the framework and sets the parameters for each response: most of the ideological work has therefore been done before a single question is put. In short, the bulk of media content is descriptive rather than overtly evaluative or propagandist, while polls tend to focus less on the way people describe the world and more on their value judgments, or opinions. Both notions fail to confront the ideological nature of information. Key to his argument is that media do not simply report survey data, do not simply reflect what the public says it wants, but actually play a central role in constructing public opinion. Extra info for Constructing Public Opinion: How Political Elites Do What They Like and Why We Seem to Go Along with It Example text Beyond the Boundaries Neither reformist nor more comprehensive critiques of polling—as an undemocratic, overzealous, technological determinism—have prevented the multiplication of cross-tabulations, or the assumption that public opinion is no more or less than the aggregates recorded by opinion polls.
For many on the nonquantitative side of the academic divide, the opinion poll is derided as the epitome of empiricist social science, a clumsy old technology that cranks and creaks its way toward untenable, simple-minded conclusions. If the general drift of media coverage describes the world in ways that make some value judgments more plausible than others, opinion polls merely offer clues to some of the consequences of these descriptions. These are different levels of discourse, and one does not translate simply into the other. Actions repository staff only Edit Item. The milestones of the future, he writes, will be products of carefully conducted scientific research, as opposed to qualitative writings or ideological criticism DeFleur 1998, 94.
Melania Trump was the single most unpopular spouse on record. While a preference for qualitative form is often well conceived and fruitful, the lingering suspicion of numerical data has, I think, degenerated into habit. This is not to say that the analysis offered here might not be just as useful for those on the right, but I am confident that they are too preoccupied with running the world to pay any attention to the likes of me. My own background, for example, is influenced by cultural studies, which, like other fields of poststructuralist inquiry, has always maintained a strong suspicion of quantitative research. Constructing Public Opinion Lewis Justin can be very useful guide, and constructing public opinion lewis justin play an important role in your products.
For those who are used to dealing in words rather than numbers, the very notion of reducing one to the other is to lose the infinite complexity of language. How can such a lack of ideological syncronicity be sustained? This has been facilitated by the considerable amount of data now available online. Throughout the book, I refer to myriad polls and polling trends gathered from a range of sources. While the media's influence is limited, it works strategically to maintain the power of pro-corporate political elites. The role of public opinion polls in government and mass media has gained increasing importance with each new election or poll taken. In this way, politicians, who tend to have power, control and money, set the media stage for what we talk about and how. Educational levels, race, income, sexuality, or gender may be constructions, but it is difficult to talk about society or history without them Christians and Carey 1989.