Published in 1998, Opinion Polls and Volatile Electorates presents a comparative overview of the development of opinion polling in late-capitalist and post-communist societies. The author considers two related issues to help readers understand the role of polls in political affairs and the prospects for polling in the the future. Firstly, it is argued that there are certain tendencies unfolding in both late-capitalist and post-communist societies (which the author terms Complex Politics) which make polling an increasingly difficult activity. The processes affect the ability of polls to measure public opinion effectively, and to contribute to political democratisation. Secondly, the book examines whether polls extend or inhibit democratic processes. The long-standing debate between advocates and critics of polls is considered and applied to both large-capitalist and post-communist societies. It is concluded that while opinion polls may in certain ways improve democratic practices, they can also be used by powerful special interest groups to frustrate these aims.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction 2. Opinion Polls, Power and Democracy 3. The Comparative Context of Opinion Polling 4. Opinion Polling and Complex Politics 5. The Development of Opinion Polling in Capitalist Societies: Britain 6. Complex Politics and Opinion Polling in Late-Capitalist Britain 7. Polling Performance in Late-Capitalist Societies 8. Opinion Polling in Central and Eastern Europe under Communism 9. Complex Politics and Opinion Polling in Post-Communist Societies 10. Methods and Issues in Polling Post-Communist Societies 11. Conclusion.
’The book offers a useful guide to the history of polling in the former communist countries and to the problems faced by pollsters in this context.’ Political Studies