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Book Reviews 203 ofthe office ofthe JAG and for improvements in education. Another Kind ofJustice deserves to be read by an audience well beyond those interested solely in military or legal history. It should also be required reading throughout the Canadian Armed Forces. KEVIN SPOONER Carleton University The Measure of Democracy: Polling, Market Research, and Public Life, 1930-1945. DANIEL J. ROBINSON. Toronto: University of Toronto Press 1999. Pp. 252, illus. $s5.oo cloth; $21.95 paper In this well-researched and cogent account, Daniel Robinson outlines the wide gap that developed during the 1930s and 1940s between the idealistic intentions behind early public polling and the rather less noble results. According to architects, particularly George Gallup, polling would give a voice to the people so that important decisions would not simply emanate from the top down. However, Robinson shows that, more often than not, polls came to be used to develop strategies and policies to achieve pre-existing aims. Moreover, he demonstrates serious flaws in early polling techniques that should make historians pause when approaching this data. Robinson makes his case by studying personalities and events on both sides of the American-Canadian border. The quality of research both primary and secondary - on each country is impressive. Robinson argues that even at its earliest stage, polling was tied to certain, and often narrow, interests, such as the desire of ever-larger firms to sell more products. Moreover, society's most marginalized members - those for whom George Gallup said polls would provide a voice - were habitually underrepresented in sampling. This included the poor, large segments of the working class, and, when it came to political matters, women. Moreover, in the United States, the voice of African Americans was muted, and, in Canada, those of French Canadians and recent immigrant groups. After dubious sampling techniques produced some disastrous predictions in the United States, including the 1940 presidential election, Gallup, to prove the value of his operations, expanded his services, an initiative that resulted in the creation of the Canadian Institute of Public Opinion. Yet the problems with sampling techniques persisted and became evident with poor CIPO predictions in the 1942 plebiscite on conscription and in the 1944 Quebec provincial election. Still, the CIPO came of age during the Second World War because, as Robinson shows, it became viewed by the federal government as providing a valuable service: it helped the government gauge what campaigns worked best in building public support for war-related programs such as 204 The Canadian Historical Review rationing. But Robinson also shows that the federal Liberal Party used tax-supported polls to develop partisan questions and then, with the results (which were not shared with the other parties), developed policies that ultimately played a significant part in its electoral success. Indeed, by the end ofthe conflict, the Liberals had forged a cosy relationship with the advertising firm Cockfield, Brown, which received significant government business and, in return, used market research techniques to provide the Liberals with a picture of what resonated most among the population. By contrast, Canada's other two national parties, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and the Conservatives, were shown to be rank amateurs when it came to employing the new polling techniques . Robinson covers a great deal of terrain in some 160 pages of narrative ; and there is little wasted space. However, he might have expanded his coverage of the war years, such as to show how Canada's Wartime Information Board, one of his principal subjects, systematically probed for and used counter-propaganda to combat dangerous rumours circulating on the home front. Moreover, though Robinson is critical of the polling process, it seems that his own evidence shows that, despite the imperfections ofthe systems adopted and the attempts ofthose in power to use polls to manipulate the population, the public was being consulted and listened to more than ever before. Indeed, as Robinson writes, the Liberals moved towards certain policies, including social welfare, in large part because the party was convinced by polls that this was popular. Perhaps Robinson is a bit harsh in his criticisms, measuring the practical utilization of polls against what one might cast as the unrealistically idealistic rhetoric ofpeople...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 203-204
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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