Method and Meaning in Polls and Surveys


Product Details

Harvard University Press
Publish Date
6.3 X 0.64 X 9.21 inches | 0.6 pounds
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About the Author

Howard Schuman is Professor of Sociology and Research Scientist, Emeritus, at the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center.


This book represents the culmination of sociologist Schuman's more than four decades' devotion to social surveys. Reading the book is akin to sitting in Schuman's research methodology class and listening to his wisdom and skepticism about surveys... Insights leap from virtually every page. As a bonus, the book is an enjoyable read. Schuman writes with passion and humor, and the examples--Americans' perceptions of the communist threat in the 1950s, the Vietnam War in the 1960s-70s, the role of "moral values" in the 2004 presidential election, gun permits--are often engaging and stimulating. One of the best books on social surveys available, it should quickly become required reading for students of research methods.-- (12/01/2008)
Method and Meaning in Polls and Surveys is an exemplar of what social science research should be. It adds significant insight into survey research methods and how survey research can advance the scientific understanding of society.-- (11/01/2008)
Once more, Howard Schuman brings his scholarly imagination and methodological rigor to the task of deciphering the question-and-answer process...It is the work of the master craftsman, the consummate methodologist demonstrating how to discover the multifaceted "meaning" of responses to survey questions through the discipline of "method" construed in all its manifold forms. Think of it as the practice of survey research at its very best.-- (03/01/2010)
The premier expert on academic survey research, Howard Schuman is a man of superb judgment, balance, and wisdom. On any debate that flies through cyberspace on survey methods, Schuman's is the voice I most await, and listen to. Here, he urges readers to take a judicious position about surveys, neither ritualistically taking their results as reflecting revealed truth, nor rejecting them as misleading, full of error and bias, and signifying nothing. Method and Meaning in Polls and Surveys is an original and erudite contribution from the field's eminent scholar.--David O. Sears, University of California, Los Angeles
Method and Meaning in Polls and Surveys makes a notable and vital contribution to the field of public opinion and survey research. Not only will Schuman's search for a "larger meaning to responses to survey questions" deepen our understanding of the discipline of method, it will leave us with fundamental epistemological questions to ponder for years to come about the limits of survey-based knowledge.--George Bishop, University of Cincinnati
Howard Schuman's Method and Meaning in Polls and Surveys is a wonderfully written exploration of methodological issues both broad and narrow by one of the field's masters--a must-read for survey researchers and poll watchers alike.--Andrew Kohut, President, Pew Research Center