Public Opinion Survey. Research Paper. Part 1

People

We continue to explore this versatile topic so that you have no questions on how to write such an essay. You can read articles where we have discussed some aspects of this issue on papercheap.co.uk blog.

It is very important to talk about the essence of the phenomenon analyzed. In this regard, we can make the following assumptions:

  • Firstly, the phenomenon in question is a particular conclusion of a certain community of people about particular issues, a kind of a result of people’s thinking activity;
  • Secondly, public interests and needs serve as criteria for selection in the formation of public opinion. Only those phenomena or facts of social life that attract attention call for development of a common judgment about them become its objects;
  • Thirdly, the mass judgments of people have a different degree of objectivity. This is due to the fact that opinions can be formed on the basis of either scientific knowledge or false conclusions and misconceptions. In the case of the lack of objective information, people compensate for it with rumors, intuition, etc. Public opinion that does not have a solid scientific foundation may be erroneous. The judgment of scientific criticism is often replaced by prejudices claimed to be public opinion;
  • Fourthly, this phenomenon acts as a specific incentive force, regulating people's behavior and their practical activities. Acting as a "material" regulating force, it refers to an active part of public consciousness, that is a mass of people. In this case, not only does public opinion reflect a certain level of people’s knowledge of a particular issue but also fixes their active attitude to the object opinions, forming a semblance of combination of rational, emotional, and volitional components. This phenomenon exists in the minds of people and is expressed in public, acting, in turn, as a powerful means of social influence;
  • Fifthly, public opinion is a specific product of interaction of people, a kind of combination of thoughts that are leveled and changed. That has formed a new quality which is not reducible to a simple sum of individual opinions.

So, not any collective opinion becomes a public one, but only the one that meets the following criteria: social interest, discussion, and competence. And its speakers are classes, social strata, commonwealth of classes, individuals, etc. Hence, it can be classified as individual, group or general, and public.

This phenomenon cannot exist outside the system of economic, socio-political, ideological and moral relations. Appraisal judgments contained in this phenomenon are of a social nature. It has its roots in social environment and, therefore, in economic relations. This does not contradict the fact that any given "public opinion" begins to grow old as soon as the mode of production that causes it grows old.

Requirements for the Study

This is a must-have section for every college paper involving research. When preparing and conducting such study, one must adhere to the following basic requirements:

  • Setting the goal of the study;

It should be clearly stated what information is expected to be received, how to use it, and what to do with the summarized results.

  • Development of tools;

Questions should be formulated clearly and be concise, without allowing different interpretations. Direct, "frontal" questions should be avoided, especially in cases when they relate to assessments of interviewee's work and are aimed at obtaining data directly about a person, his or her views. To obtain more objective information, check questions are introduced (on the same topic, but in another formulation, which allows to obtain indirect confirmation of the answer to the main question).

After getting a set of possible answers-tips, the place for other options not listed in the questionnaire is indicated.

  • Preparation of the sample (number and composition of respondents);

When conducting research on the problems related to all social strata in a city or district, the optimal number of respondents should be from 1 to 1,5 percent of the total population. If the survey is conducted among individual groups, in large labor collectives, or educational institutions, the number of respondents can reach 10 percent.

In small units, if possible, the survey is conducted among all its members, or among some part of them at the discretion of researchers. In terms of oral, telephone, or express polls on current questions that do not require deep analysis, it is enough to interview several dozen people. In order to obtain the most objective information, all categories of the population should be included in the number of respondents (by nationality, age, social status, education, etc.). If this is your homework, then it is better to clarify these facets with the teacher.

  • Conducting a survey;

As a rule, it must be done anonymously. That increases reliability of information. Much depends on researchers in this case, on how skillfully they prepare people for stating their views, positions, and opinions frankly.

  • Processing of questionnaires, preparation of conclusions, recommendations and proposals for overcoming development of undesirable processes, forecasting of possible outcomes and consequences of their implementation;
  • Taking concrete actions;
  • Subsequent checks of correctness of the decisions and results (tracking).

Stages

Here it would be appropriate to outline the mechanism of the formation of the phenomenon under consideration. Let us look at the main stages:

  1. Perception of information (objective, subjective, tendentious, etc.) at the individual level;
  2. Conclusions and assessments of an individual based on available knowledge, experience, ability to analyze, and the level of awareness;
  3. Exchange of available information and conclusions, discussions with other people;
  4. Formation of a certain opinion of a small group of people on this basis;
  5. Exchange between small groups and shaping the views of the social stratum;
  6. Emergence of common opinion.

It is possible to single out the main stages in the formation and functioning of public opinion:

  1. It is born;
  2. It reaches a certain degree of development;
  3. It "dies" or realize itself in concrete manifestations of life.

Experience shows that if necessary measures – propaganda in particular – are taken at the initial stage of formation of public opinion, it is much easier to figure out a positive and necessary direction, subsequent actions and manifestations of life, or to localize and prevent incorrect beliefs.

On the other hand, it can cause negative manifestations. Depending on believability of proposed facts and their relevance to the current mood of people and the general situation in a country, it can become a serious weapon for a complete distortion of a perception of reality. If you know how the false mirror works, then you can imagine the same in a larger and more abstract scale. It must be taken into account that this abstractness does not detract from the final effect in the least. An individual cannot do anything for the sake of the triumph of truth.

Functions

They differ depending on interacting natures of views, on their content or form. Public opinion is characterized by the following functions:

  • Expressive (in a narrower sense, control);
  • Advisory;
  • Directive.

Expressive function has the widest meaning. It always takes a certain position in relation to any facts and events in the life of the society, the actions of various institutions or state leaders.

The second function is advisory. This opinion will be fair, if, of course, institutions of power are interested in such answers. Listening to these tips, leaders, groups, and clans are forced to adjust decisions.

And, finally, the directive function manifests itself in the fact that the public makes decisions on certain social problems of imperative nature (for example, the will of people during elections or referendums). Imperative statements occupy a very important place in politics.

Be sure to indicate one more classification in your essay. We will talk about it in the next part of the article.

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