Sep 2, 2010

Roper Center for Public Opinion Research

The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research (University of Connecticut) is a social science data archive specialized in opinion surveys. The majority of surveys regard United States, but you can find data from over 50 nations. This is one more useful link to find data for your research papers (see older posts). Useful… Every conceptual tool has limits. Therefore, it is necessary to interpret data both from a theoretical and methodological point of view. Pierre Bourdieu’s famous essay “Public Opinion does not exist” tells us about "some" of those limits and the “rethorical” use of public opinion surveys. According to the scholar ‘public opinion’ is like a mirage and politician many times invokes it in order to implement already decided policies. In this sense, polling becomes a mean and a field for political struggle: “The politician who yesterday said ‘God is on our side’ today says ‘public opinion’ is on our side’” (Bordieu 1979, 125). The scholar also criticizes the fundamental assumptions of opinion polls: everyone has an opinion; all opinions have the same value; there is a consensus about problems.
Bourdieu, P. (1979). Public Opinion Does Not Exist, in A. Mattelart and S. Siegelaub (eds.) Communication and Class Struggle, New York: International General.