The Anatomy of Public Opinion

Jacob Shamir and Michal Shamir
Considers the various components of public opinion


This book probes the anatomy of public opinion by analyzing its components, their interrelations and dynamics.

Building upon recent work in communication, social psychology, social cognition, and political science, Jacob Shamir and Michal Shamir approach public opinion as a multidimensional concept with a multitude of expressions. Public opinion is not comprised merely of a distribution of attitudes obtained in the polls. It also expresses and is expressed by a climate of opinion, expectations, public speech and political action. Often these different facets coincide, but they may also diverge. Public opinion can evolve along different dynamic paths; the nature of the information environment is a major factor in determining which dynamic path will be set in motion.

While social information and social construction are important in public opinion processes, major information events play a central role in moving public opinion and in constraining processes of social construction. In this book these postulates are explored on the micro and macro levels, but the focus is on public opinion dynamics at the system level: how the facets of public opinion respond to variablility in the information environment. This is approached from different directions and with different parameters. The authors use as their case study Israeli public opinion on issues of peace and territories during the Intifada.

The Anatomy of Public Opinion will form an important part in the body of study on the role of information in public opinion processes. It will be of interest to students and scholars of political science, communication, public opinion, and political psychology.

Jacob Shamir is Senior Lecturer of Communication and Journalism, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

Michal Shamir is Associate Professor of Political Science, Tel Aviv University.

Praise / Awards

  • "[The authors] are quite successful in laying the foundation for an interesting and innovative approach to public opinion research."
    —Barry J. Balleck, Georgia Southern University, American Political Science Review, Volume 96: No. 1 (March 2002)
  • "An innovative combination. . . of qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches. . . ranges this book much above the 'standardized' empirical research."
    —Slavko Splichal, European Journal of Communication , Volume 16, No. 3
  • "The book offers not only insight into contemporary political and social issues, but also, and more importantly, a broader view of public opinion processes."
    —Patricia Moy, University of Washington, International Journal of Public Opinion Research

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 320pp.
  • 8 drawings, 26 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2000
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11022-3

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  • $94.95 U.S.