Continuing the Search for Validity in Public-Opinion: About Social Problems and Social Decision-Making

  • Alex S. Edelstein


The work of Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann reflects the continuing search for validity in public opinion, most motably with respect to her theses of the spiral of silence (1974) and (1977) and the climate of opinion (1976) and (1979). Speaking to the issue of the validity of public opinion as a force in society (1979), she wrote:

“The intrinsically noteworthy fact is that people sense a ‘climate of opinion’ without (the benefit of) public opinion research ... they virtually (command) a public opinion organ capable of registering the most minute changes.”1

While there shall always be scientific disputation about the power of the people to observe, and to report, it is nonetheless true that to the extent that we have anything that we can call empirically derived theory of public opinion it rests upon these delicate although substantial bases; delicate, because in the most demanding of scientific respects the capacity of people to observe cannot be witnessed, but substantial, in the respect that such outcomes can be seen.


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Copyright information

© Westdeutscher Verlag GmbH, Opladen 1981

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  • Alex S. Edelstein

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