Empirical identification of the competence level of respondents in mass polls

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Article(UKR)(.pdf)

Paper dwells upon the methodological problems of empirical identification of respondents’ competence in mass surveys as a factor of reliability of empirical sociological knowledge in public space. In modern conditions of public life digitalisation, comprehensive access to various information sources is seen as an information management skill and an element of media literacy, primarily the sensitivity to distorted media content. This competence forms the respondents’ factual knowledge about the survey subject. The subjects of public opinion are the respondents of national representative surveys. The discursive aspect of the empirical sociological knowledge reliability determines the relevance of considering the social context of public opinion formation. The focus is on the differences between public opinion and mass sentiment. Public opinion is based primarily on knowledge of social reality, while the mass attitude is mainly a situational emotional attitude to such a reality. The author analyses the influence of the subjects of the media space on the level of respondents’ competence, in particular, the effect of replacing respondents’ own opinion with the reproduction of the narrative of the relevant media content. As a result, a wrong worldview is formed with an inadequate assessment by respondents of the activities of individual political figures and events in national history. The existing imbalance between the articulation of interest in socio-political issues and the patterns of political activity is recognized. The importance of methodological procedures for identifying the level of respondents’ competence, factual knowledge of the subject of the survey is emphasized. Evaluation judgments should be based on the respondent’s awareness of the nature of the questions asked, which is checked using special filters. At the same time, the pollster-sociologist is responsible for both the tools, the correspondence of the survey subject to the level of respondents’ competence, and the meaningful interpretation of the published data. This requirement is getting more essential in mass surveys on sensitive socio-political issues.

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