Lazarsfeld Paul

Lazarsfeld Paul

(1901-76) Austrian-born, later US-based social researcher and sociologist, who made an outstanding contribution to the development of survey research and techniques of quantitative data analysis in sociology (see Lazarsfeld and Rosenberg, The Language of Social Research, 1955). After early research in Austria on class and unemployment, he emigrated to the USA in 1933, working first on research into the mass media, before moving to Columbia University, where he set up what was to become one of the leading centres for empirical sociological research, the Bureau of Applied Social Research. Among the most famous of the studies with which he was associated were those on voting behaviour, including The People's Choice (1944), with Berelson and Gaudet and Voting (1954), with Berelson and McPhee (see also VOTING BEHAVIOUR). Criticism of his work, for example from C. Wright MILLS, that it amounted only to ABSTRACTED EMPIRICISM, is unfair, as it was Lazarsfeld who can claim to have first established the systematic SOCIAL SURVEY as an analytical sociological tool rather than merely a means of collecting facts or opinions. His systematization of methods of HYPOTHESIS testing using CROSS-TABULATIONS remains central in sociology He also contributed much to the development of research methods in other areas, including the construction of indicators, and his contributions to MATHEMATICAL SOCIOLOGY were instrumental in helping to establish this as a distinctive subsection of sociological endeavour. He himself claimed that his research goal was always to seek THEORIES OF THE MIDDLE RANGE. The continuing influence of a number of his theories in mass communications research (see OPINION LEADER and the TWO-STEP FLOW IN MASS COMMUNICATIONS) is testimony to this.
References in periodicals archive ?
Lazarsfeld Paul y Morris Rosenberg, coeditores, 1955, The language of social research: a reader in the methodology of social research, Free, Glencoe.