Opinion Research and Publicness (Meinungsforschung und Öffentlichkeit)*


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    We are grateful to Angela Ellis, Jeff Manza, and Neil McLaughlin for their help with various parts of this project.

Address correspondence to: Andrew Perrin, Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina, CB#3210, Hamilton Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3210. E-mail: andrew_perrin@unc.edu


We present a short introduction to, and the first English language translation of, Theodor W. Adorno's 1964 article, “Meinungsforschung und Öffentlichkeit.” In this article, Adorno situates the misunderstanding of public opinion within a dialectic of elements of publicness itself: empirical publicness' dependence on a normative ideology of publicness, and modern publicness' tendency to undermine its own principles. He also locates it in the dual role of mass media as both fora for the expression of opinion and, as he calls them, “organs of public opinion.” The introduction provides a discussion of Adorno's reception in the American academy, arguing that contemporary sociological practice should be concerned with the problems Adorno raises. We suggest that Adorno's relegation to the fields of philosophy and aesthetics belies his relevance to empirical sociological research.