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Title page for ETD etd-12262012-134406

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Ostrow, Sonja Gammeltoft
URN etd-12262012-134406
Title A Public in Process: The Frankfurt School, The Allensbach Institute, and The Pursuit of "Public Opinion" in 1950s West Germany
Degree Master of Arts
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Helmut Walser Smith Committee Chair
Sarah Igo Committee Member
  • Allensbach Institute
  • Federal Republic of Germany
  • Public Opinion
Date of Defense 2012-12-26
Availability unrestricted
This project examines attempts to study and define public opinion in postwar Germany by two institutions: the Frankfurt School and the Allensbach Institute. I show how opinion researchers responded to theoretical frameworks developed during World War II and the empirical work begun by occupation authorities in Germany in order to quantify and study the lives of their countrymen. These researchers also linked their findings to the political and economic process in new ways, helping to envision and make sense of the West German transition to democracy from dictatorship. The Frankfurt School researchers attempted to problematize the notion of “public opinion” itself, while the Allensbach Institute claimed to offer an unbiased, scientific view of the German public. By the 1970s, the concept of “public opinion” had become indispensable to any attempt to address the past, present, and future of the German nation.
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