The Market Place of Political Opinions: Public Opinion Polling and its Publics in Transnational Perspective, 1930-1950

28 February 2011, 12:45 - 14:00

CRASSH

Part of the CRASSH Fellows Work-in-Progress seminar series.  All welcome, no registration necessary.  Sandwich lunch and refreshments provided.

Dr Bernhard Fulda (History/Sidney Sussex)

For some reason, the spectacular rise of public opinion research after 1945 is a phenomenon largely ignored by historians. Those few historical studies which do engage with the emergence of public opinion polling and its effects on political practice mostly adapt a national focus. Yet the rise of opinion polling is not only a common characteristic of democracies in the second half of the twentieth century. It is also a genuinely international development, based on an exchange of ideas, practices and personnel across borders, and influenced by the observation of events and advances in other countries. Indeed, although the practice of opinion polling is largely set within a national framework, the international context and transnational exchanges decisively shaped the process of its establishment in widely differing democratic systems. This paper presents some preliminary thoughts on the early decades of opinion polling, especially regarding economic and media dynamics. It employs the categories of attention and trust to describe opinion polling as a communicative practice.

   

To access the Readings for the Work in Progress seminar, please contact Michelle Maciejewska.