Researching the Public Opinion Environment
Theories and Methods
- Sherry Devereaux Ferguson - University of Ottawa, Canada
SAGE Series in Public Relations
Researching the Public Opinion Environment informs the reader on the rationale, purposes, theories, and methodologies involved in researching publics. The book is divided into four parts. Part one looks at theories and systems relevant to opinion research. Part two addresses the topics of monitoring and analyzing the media. Part three describes the basics of survey research, focus groups, Delphi techniques, stakeholder assemblies, and Q methodology. And finally, part four analyzes the impact of the media.
Although a number of books have been written on public opinion, few address both theoretical and methodological issues. Graphs, tables, and sample analysis help the reader to understand applications described in the book. The material discussed in this book has numerous applications. Communicators can apply information acquired on key publics to plan and evaluate campaigns, track the extent to which messages have appeared in the media, assess organizational image, develop marketing strategies, and manage their issues. Students will learn an important job function for added credibility when they apply for jobs.
“Ferguson’s book is an interesting mix of theoretical and methodical themes related to the use of public opinion research in organizations. . . . The central focus seems to be to acquaint the reader with the most important theoretical and research technical aspects of public opinion research. . . . The book provides professional communication workers and students from business schools a simple introduction to issues of public opinion research.”
This book is absolutely amazing. It has everything one needs for both conducting research on public opinion, and teaching research methods. I am particularly thrilled with the media research section because I have lots of students conducting research on media framing, and I have no doubts they will be thrilled for having this book.
I am particularly interested in Delphi Technique and Q Methodology. I had read a review that suggested this book might be more about these topics than it turned out to be. One problem with these methods is the lack of academic critique they have received. I was hoping to find a text that would discuss how such social science methods are developed and critiqued (theory rather than mere practice thereof), which would serve as useful background for students using or developing "responsive" or "on-the-ground" methods themselves. Unfortunately this wasn't the book (no fault of the author!).