Moore David W. - The opinion makers

Author : Moore David W.
Title : The opinion makers An insider exposes the truth behind the polls
Year : 2008

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Preface. Pollsters under Attack. It’s a tragic irony that one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated social inventions, widely anticipated as a means of enhancing democracy, has turned out to do the opposite. When in the mid-1930s George Gallup, Elmo Roper, and Archibald Crossley unveiled their scientific method of conducting public opinion polls, they expected that the people’s voices would now be heard not just at election time, but continuously. And in one sense, they were absolutely prescient. These scientific pollsters launched an enterprise that has revolutionized the way history is recorded. Before that time, historians “studied nations in the aggregate, and gave us only the story of princes, dynasties, sieges, and battles.” Now, with an archive of polls, historians can study the people’s history—detailed information about normal people’s family lives, health, work habits, leisure and travel activities, religious beliefs and behavior, living arrangements, sexual activity, finances, experience with crime, and of course their attitudes about anything from politics, religion, and sports to the latest social fads and entertainment personalities. So profound is this new way of describing a nation and its people that it has essentially defined the concept of mass public, by “shaping Americans’ sense of themselves as individuals, members of communities, and citizens of a nation.” ...

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