Margaret Sankey's Reviews > The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, and the Making of a Mass Public

The Averaged American by Sarah E. Igo
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Jul 16, 2012

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Igo lays out the beginnings of national polling and statistical analysis as a social science tool and popular culture phenomenon, starting with the Lynds and their Middletown Muncie through the 1920s and the Middletown in Transition of the Depression, as the study was discovered and embraced by the advertising industry, then moving to Gallup, Roper and the advent of political polling that guided decision making (barring the 1948 election fiasco) to the Kinsey reports. Although people craved a "middle" where they could locate themselves as normal and average (and identifying normal and average as whatever they were, and deviations from it as deviant), they also never really understood polling and resented not having their "votes" counted in surveys. Igo's research is strong in identifying the critiques of these studies at the time, as well as the hindsight of what affect largely white, middle-class norms had on the surveys and the popular reception at the time.

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