Center for the Study of Law and Society
Miniseries in Empirical Research Methods
Wednesday, March 21, 2012, 9 a.m. – 12 noon. Lunch to follow.
Philip Selznick Seminar Room, 2240 Piedmont Avenue, Berkeley
Professor of Political Science and Law and Department Chair
Department of Poltical Science, U. C., Berkeley
Opinion surveys are nearly ubiquitous in public life today. They are also widely maligned and misunderstood. What are surveys, how do we conduct them, what can they tell us (or fail to tell us), and what is their relevance to social and political research? This workshop is geared to introduce you to the critical consumption and generation of survey data. The session will begin with a brief discussion of the concept of public opinion, a concept often equated with the measurement of opinion through surveys. It then provides a working overview of sampling, measurement, the psychology of survey response, and the design of questionnaires. The session concludes with an examination of three challenges to survey research today: (1) the growing diversity of the U.S. population; (2) the abiding alienation and disaffection of mass publics; (3) the rise of new technologies for surveying public opinion and mass behavior.