Modern Public Opinion
Modern Public Opinion
Modern Public Opinion is a new book and not simply a revision of my Public Opinion, published years ago. Nonetheless, I have taken from that earlier work a great deal of the structure, and some readers may note that the organization and chapter headings are almost identical. Moreover, I have incorporated in the text of Modern Public Opinion, especially in the earlier chapters, a considerable number of pages directly taken from my Public Opinion. Though I have not counted the exact number of pages abstracted from the earlier work, let us say that they account for a fifth, or perhaps a fourth, of the total content of Modern Public Opinion. In the philosopher's story of the shoe, in which all the parts are successively replaced, the student is asked whether he is dealing with a new or an old shoe. Let us say in the case of these books that the solid heel and the shape of the uppers remain in the second book and all the rest has been replaced. Of no concern to the student reader, who was just beginning elementary school when Public Opinion was published, this statement is my accounting to those readers who were so generously responsive to the earlier book.
When I contemplate the materials with which I had to work fifteen years ago in constructing my Public Opinion of that day and then look at the contributions of the intervening years, I am amazed and encouraged by the energy and productivity of American scholarship, once attention is centered on an area of knowledge. There are the numerous bibliographies which have made unnecessary the fairly extended bibliographies of Public Opinion. During the past fifteen years several thousand articles dealing with public opinion, the mass media, and communication have been published. An industry devoted to polling, to the measurement of attitudes, and market research, has expanded to a research activity expending not less than $100 million a year. Propaganda has been practiced and studied ad nauseam. The study of mass communication content and effects has been conducted with enormous gusto. And, latterly, we are supposed to have learned a great deal about the theory of communication from the contributions of physical scientists to information theory. During the past decade I have come across thousands of interesting fragments. And yet, when I review what I have learned . . .