The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens and the Making of a Mass Public

The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens and the Making of a Mass Public


By (author) Sarah E. Igo

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  • Format: Paperback | 408 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 198mm x 28mm | 295g
  • Publication date: 6 May 2008
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge, Mass
  • ISBN 10: 0674027426
  • ISBN 13: 9780674027428
  • Sales rank: 874,615

Product description

Americans today "know" that a majority of the population supports the death penalty, that half of all marriages end in divorce, and that four out of five prefer a particular brand of toothpaste. But remarkably, such data - now woven into our social fabric - became common currency only in the last century. Sarah Igo tells the story, for the first time, of how opinion polls, man-in-the-street interviews, sex surveys, community studies, and consumer research transformed the United States public.

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Author information

Sarah E. Igo is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania.

Review quote

"Briskly written, forcefully argued and broad in scope, The Averaged American falls into a category occupied by works like Paul Starr's Social Transformation of American Medicine and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's Midwife's Tale, Pulitzer Prize-winning books by academics whose reach extended beyond the ivory tower... Igo does for social statistics what Louis Menand's Metaphysical Club did for American pragmatism, providing a narrative intellectual history of the field." - Scott Stossel, New York Times Book Review "A fascinating glimpse of the upheaval that forever altered the way Americans see themselves, sell products, and operate election campaigns may be found in The Averaged American." - Richard S. Dunham, Business Week"

Table of contents

* List of Illustrations * Introduction: America in Aggregate *1. Canvassing a "Typical" Community *2. Middletown Becomes Everytown *3. Polling the Average Populace *4. The Majority Talks Back *5. Surveying Normal Selves *6. The Private Lives of the Public * Epilogue: Statistical Citizens * Notes * Acknowledgments * Index