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Group Experiment and Other Writings

Group Experiment and Other Writings

The Frankfurt School on Public Opinion in Postwar Germany

Friedrich Pollock, Theodor W. Adorno

Edited and translated by Andrew J. Perrin and Jeffrey K. Olick

ISBN 9780674048461

Publication date: 02/15/2011

Theodor W. Adorno

Friedrich Pollock

Andrew J. Perrin

Jeffrey K. Olick

During the occupation of West Germany after the Second World War, the American authorities commissioned polls to assess the values and opinions of ordinary Germans. They concluded that the fascist attitudes of the Nazi era had weakened to a large degree. and his Frankfurt School colleagues, who returned in 1949 from the United States, were skeptical. They held that standardized polling was an inadequate and superficial method for exploring such questions. In their view, public opinion is not simply an aggregate of individually held opinions, but is fundamentally a public concept, formed through interaction in conversations and with prevailing attitudes and ideas “in the air.” In Group Experiment, edited by , they published their findings on their group discussion experiments that delved deeper into the process of opinion formation. and make a case that these experiments are an important missing link in the ontology and methodology of current social-science survey research.


  • The "group experiments" were once famous and should be again. Perrin and Olick make a signal contribution by bringing this work together here. It is of pivotal importance for the history of social science, for themes that remain vital in public sphere research, and for its empirical contributions to understanding postwar Germany.

    —Craig Calhoun, President, Social Science Research Council


  • Friedrich Pollock (1894-1970) was assistant director of the Institute for Social Research, the Frankfurt School, from 1928-1959.
  • Theodor Adorno (1903–1969) was a leading figure in the Frankfurt School and one of the twentieth century's most demanding intellectuals. Recognized for his contributions to the fields of philosophy, sociology, aesthetics, literary criticism, and musicology, Adorno continues to be a thinker of extraordinary influence and importance in Germany, and his reputation continues to grow in the English-speaking world as his many works are translated.
  • Andrew J. Perrin is Associate Professor of Sociology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
  • Jeffrey K. Olick is Professor of Sociology and History, University of Virginia.

Book Details

  • 268 pages
  • 0-7/8 x 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press