The first study of opinion polls using an interdisciplinary approach combining cultural studies, sociology, political science, and mass communication. Rather than dismissing polls, Lewis considers them a significant form of representation in contemporary culture; he explores how the media report on polls and, in turn, how publicized results influence the way people respond to polls.
Though Lewis (communication, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst) writes that he sees opinion polls as "like the faces plastered on the sides of billboards<-->obvious and yet enigmatic, loud without depth," he also confesses that he has always been an ardent consumer of them. His study attempts to understand what polls are in a social and cultural sense, what they signify about ideology, and how they might be used to question the ideologies of political and economic elites rather than validate them. The book's first section deals with how public opinion is constructed, through the technology of polling and by the news media that report and interpret surveys. Its second section examines the roles played by the media and political elites in shaping public opinion as signified through polls. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)