Public Opinion Research in the USSR: Opportunities and Pitfalls

John P. Willerton, Lee Sigelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Soviet public opinion data are rapidly becoming a major source for analyzing a wide range of political, economic and social topics in the USSR. Questions previously unanswerable in the Soviet setting are now open to empirical scrutiny. The merging of Western survey experience with Soviet on-site expertise is generating data which are of considerable current interest and which enable a reconstruction of earlier émigré survey findings to be undertaken. Possibilities are now emerging for comparative analyses of perceptions, attitudes, values and behaviour in the USSR and other countries, including the degree of support for reform, assessments of past and present leaders, the ranking of problems that confront Soviet society, attitudes to the changing military balance, and the level of trust in government. At the same time there are pitfalls to be avoided, concerning in particular sampling and sensitivity in certain areas. Certain questions are not or may not be asked, whilst there is a caution in responding that can lead to invariant responses, and make it hard to interpret some patterns of response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-234
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Communist Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • General Environmental Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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