POLLPROP Court of Last Resort
Overwhelmed by mediaprop, and perplexed by the multiversity around them, publics often look to the polls to inform them about what others are thinking. When pollprop is intrusive and creates agendas that are responsive only to exclusive interests, it is producing oldprop. However, when it responds to diversity and is sensitive to nuances in values and perspectives, it enables the popular culture to communicate its problems clearly, and this is newprop.
The growing variety of special interest groups spawned by a popular culture has generated needs on the part of everyone for information about how others think. Environmentalists, feminists, and homosexuals -- as examples -- increasingly have been told by surveys how publics regard them. And in response to changing market and social forces, demographers are redefining the import of age, income, education, and other longtime predictors of attitudes and behaviors.1
Conscious of misgivings and fears about social change, pollprop has given us insight into the persistence of values across generations. As an important example, it has assured us that youthful generations share more values with older generations than we believe. For example, 60% of first-year college students over the decades continue to believe that helping others is the most important value; youths still say there is too much materialism but they continue to believe in making money; and although outlooks on sex, divorce, drugs, and education have changed, values centered in religion and family life have persisted. Access to these data has made it easier for the popular culture to communicate about itself.2