Political Opinion Polling in Germany

  • Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann


After the capitulation of the Reich in 1945, German public opinion polling developed in an extremely peculiar manner in that part of Germany that first included the Western zones occupied by the UK, USA and France and then became the Federal Republic of Germany. The development had two roots, each almost completely independent of the other. There was also a more indirect third root, namely, the great German social inquiries of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These inquiries involved written interviews with structured questionnaires and thousands of respondents on themes like ‘Research on the State of the Farm Worker’ (questionnaires dispatched to 15000 landowners in 1874–5); The State of Factory Workers and Apprentices’ (questionnaires to 7000 factory proprietors, workers and apprentices in 1875); The Morale in the Countryside’ (questionnaires to 14 000 Protestant pastors in 1895); and so on (Oberschall, 1962). But this tradition was destroyed by the First World War. Again, in 1933, just as smaller inquiries were getting back on their feet in Germany, and even more widespread in Austria, the establishment of the Third Reich in Germany put an end to empirical social research (Jahoda et al, 1933).


Public Opinion Federal Election Public Opinion Poll Federal Ministry Public Opinion Research 
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Copyright information

© Robert M. Worcester 1983

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  • Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann

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