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{{SocPsy}}
'''Public opinion''' is the aggregate of individual attitudes or [[belief]]s held by the adult population.
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'''Public opinion''' is the aggregate of individual attitudes or [[belief]]s held by the adult population. Public opinion can also be defined as the complex collection of opinions of many different people and the sum of all their views. The principle approaches to the study of public opinion may be divided into 4 categories:<br>
  +
:a) quantitative measurement of opinion distributions;<br>
  +
:b) investigation of the internal relationships among the individual opinions that make up public opinion on an issue;<br>
  +
:c) description or analysis of the public role of public opinion;<br>
  +
:d) study both of the communication media that disseminate the ideas on which opinions are based and of the uses that propagandists and other manipulators make of these media.<br>
  +
<br>
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== Concepts of “public opinion” ==
  +
Public opinion as a concept gained credence with the rise of 'public' in the eighteenth century. The English term ‘public opinion’ dates back to the eighteenth century and has derived from the French ‘l’opinion publique’, which was first used in 1588 by [[Montaigne]]. This concept came about through the process of [[urbanization]] and other political and social forces. For the first time, it became important what people thought, as forms of political contention changed.
   
Public opinion developed as a concept with the rise of a 'public' in the eighteenth century. The English term ‘public opinion’ dates from the eighteenth century and derives from the French ‘l’opinion publique’, first used by [[Montaigne]] two centuries earlier in 1588. This came about through [[urbanisation]] and other political and social forces. It became important what people thought as forms of political contention changed.
+
[[Adam Smith]], one of the earliest classical economists, refers to public opinion in his [[Theory of Moral Sentiments]], but it was [[Jeremy Bentham]], the famous utilitarian Philosopher, who fully developed theories of public opinion. He opened that public opinion had the power to ensure that rulers would rule for the greatest happiness of the greater number. He brought in Utilitarian philosophy in order to define theories of public opinion.
   
[[Jeremy Bentham]] was the first English writer to develop theories of public opinion. He reasonsed that public opinion had the power to ensure that rulers would rule for the greatest happiness of the greater number.
+
The German sociologist [[Ferdinand Tönnies]], by using the conceptional tools of his theory of [[Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft]], argued (1922, "''Kritik der öffentlichen Meinung''"), that 'public opinion' has the [[equivalent]] [[social function]]s in societies (''Gesellschaften'') which [[religion]] has in communities (''Gemeinschaften'').<ref>cf. Rolf Fechner/[[Lars Clausen]]/Arno Bammé (eds.): ''Öffentliche Meinung zwischen neuer Religion und neuer Wissenschaft. Ferdinand Tönnies' „Kritik der öffentlichen Meinung“ in der internationalen Diskussion'', in: ''Tönnies im Gespräch'', tom. 3, Munich/Vienna: Profil 2005, ISBN 3-89019-590-3.</ref>
   
Using the conceptional tools of his theory of [[Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft]], the German sociologist [[Ferdinand Tönnies]] argued (1922, "''Kritik der öffentlichen Meinung''"), that 'public opinion' has the [[equivalent]] [[social function]]s in societies (''Gesellschaften'') which [[religion]] has in communities (''Gemeinschaften'').
+
The German philosopher [[Jürgen Habermas]] contributed the idea of "[[Public Sphere]]" to the discussion of public opinion. Public Sphere, according to Habermas, is where “something approaching public opinion can be formed” (2004, p.351). Habermas claimed that it is featured as universal access, rational debate, and disregard for rank. However, he believed that these three features for how public opinion ''should'' be formed are not in place in western democracy. Public opinion, in western democracy, is highly susceptible to elite manipulation.
   
The German philosopher [[Jürgen Habermas]] contributed the idea of "[[Public Sphere]]" to the discussion of public opinion. Public Sphere, as he argued, is where &#8220;something approaching public opinion can be formed&#8221;(2004, p.351). It is featured as universal access, rational debate, and disregard for rank. However, these three features for how public opinion SHOULD be formed are not in place in western democracy. Public opinion is highly susceptible to elite manipulation.
+
The American sociologist [[Herbert Blumer]] has proposed an altogether different conception of the "public." According to Blumer, public opinion is discussed as a form of collective behavior (another specialized term) which is made up of those who are discussing a given public issue at any one time. Given this definition, there are many publics; each of them comes into being when an issue arises and ceases to exist when the issue is resolved. Blumer claims that people participate in public in different capacities and to different degrees. So, public opinion polling cannot measure the public. An educated individual's participation is more important than that of a drunk. The "mass," in which people independently make decisions about, for example, which brand of toothpaste to buy, is a form of collective behavior different from the public.
   
[[Herbert Blumer]], American sociolologist, has proposed a somewhat different conception of the "public," as a form of collective behavior (another specialized term) which is made up of those who are discussing a given public issue at any one time. Given this definition, there are many publics; each of them comes into being when an issue arises and ceases to exist when the issue is resolved. Blumer claims that since people participate in a public to different degrees, public opinion polling cannot measure the public: An archbishop's participation is more important than that of a bum. The "mass," in which people independently make decisions about, for example, which brand of toothpaste to buy, is a form of collective behavior different from the public.
+
Public opinion plays an important role in the political sphere. Cutting across all aspects of relationship between government and public opinion are studies of voting behavior. These have registered the distribution of opinions on a wide variety of issues, have explored the impact of special interest groups on election outcomes and have contributed to our knowledge about the effects of government propaganda and policy.
  +
Three communities of people who form Public Opinion
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1: Public Leaders and Thinker
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2: Common Educated Class
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3: Common People
  +
  +
==Private opinion and public policy==
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  +
The most pervasive issue dividing theories of the opinion-policy relation bears a striking resemblance to the problem of monism-pluralism in the history of philosophy. The controversy deals with the question of whether the structure of socio-political action should be viewed as a more or less centralized process of acts and decisions by a class of key leaders, representing integrated hierarchies of influence in society or whether it is more accurately envisaged as several sets of relatively autonomous opinion and influence groups, interacting with representative decisionmakers in an official structure of differentiated governmental authority. The former assumption interprets individual, group and official action as part of a single system and reduces politics and governmental policies to a derivative of three basic analytical terms: society, culture and personality.
  +
  +
==The use of public opinion studies==
  +
The rapid spread of public opinion measurement around the world is reflection of the number of uses to which it can be put. Governments have increasingly found surveys to be useful tools for guiding their public information and propaganda programs and occasionally for helping in the formulation of other kinds of policies. The US Department of Agriculture was one of the first government agencies to sponsor systematic and large scale surveys. It was followed by many other federal bodies, including the US information agency which has conducted opinion research in all parts of the world.
   
 
Public opinion can be influenced by [[public relations]] and the [[political media]]. Additionally, [[mass media]] utilizes a wide variety of [[advertising]] techniques to get their message out and change the minds of people. A continuously used technique is [[propaganda]].
 
Public opinion can be influenced by [[public relations]] and the [[political media]]. Additionally, [[mass media]] utilizes a wide variety of [[advertising]] techniques to get their message out and change the minds of people. A continuously used technique is [[propaganda]].
   
The tide of public opinion becomes more and more crucial during political elections, most importantly elections determining the national [[executive branch|executive]].
+
The tide of public opinion becomes more and more crucial during political elections, most importantly elections determining the national [[executive branch|executive]]. Some think the [[Overton window]] is a method for shifting or describing the a shift in public opinion.
   
 
It is frequently measured using the method of [[survey sampling]].
 
It is frequently measured using the method of [[survey sampling]].
   
==See also==
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== See also ==
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* [[Collective behaviour]]
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* [[Community attitudes]]
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* [[Opinion polls]]
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* [[Public Opinion Quarterly]]
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* [[Political psychology]]
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* [[Political_socialization]]
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* [[Public relations]]
   
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;Organisations
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* [[American Association for Public Opinion Research]]
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* [[European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research]]
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* [[World Association for Public Opinion Research]]
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  +
;People
 
* [[Gabriel Tarde]]
 
* [[Gabriel Tarde]]
* [[Collective behavior]]
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* [[Ferdinand Tönnies]]
* [[Mass media and public opinion]]
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* [[Walter Lippmann]]
* [[Opinion polls]]
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== Notes ==
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<references/>
   
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== Bibliography ==
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* [[Edward L. Bernays]], ''Crystallizing Public Opinion'', 1923
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* [[Jürgen Habermas]], ''[[The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere]]'', 1989 (''Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit'', Neuwied 1962)
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* Jacob Shamir/Michal Shamir, ''The Anatomy of Public Opinion'', Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000. [http://www.jstor.org/view/00030554/sp030005/04x0525e/0]
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* [[Walter Lippmann]], ''Public Opinion'', 1922.
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* Norman John Powell, ''Anatomy of Public Opinion'', New York, Prentice-Hall, 1951.
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* [[Ferdinand Tönnies]], ''On Public Opinion'', 1970 (''Kritik der öffentlichen Meinung'', 1922, critical edition, Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter ²2003)
   
*[Category:Sociology]]
 
   
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[[Category:Attitudes]]
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[[Category:Crowd psychology]]
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[[Category:Public opinion| ]]
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<!--
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[[ar:رأي عام]]
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[[bg:Обществено мнение]]
 
[[de:Öffentliche Meinung]]
 
[[de:Öffentliche Meinung]]
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[[et:Avalik arvamus]]
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[[es:Opinión pública]]
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[[eo:Publika opinio]]
 
[[fr:Opinion publique]]
 
[[fr:Opinion publique]]
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[[gl:Opinión pública]]
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[[hr:Javno mnijenje]]
 
[[id:Opini publik]]
 
[[id:Opini publik]]
 
[[it:Opinione pubblica]]
 
[[it:Opinione pubblica]]
 
[[he:דעת קהל]]
 
[[he:דעת קהל]]
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[[ja:世論]]
 
[[pl:Opinia publiczna]]
 
[[pl:Opinia publiczna]]
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[[pt:Opinião pública]]
 
[[ro:Opinie publică]]
 
[[ro:Opinie publică]]
 
[[ru:Общественное мнение]]
 
[[ru:Общественное мнение]]
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[[sr:Јавно мнење]]
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[[sv:Allmän opinion]]
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[[th:มติมหาชน]]
 
[[zh:舆论]]
 
[[zh:舆论]]
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-->
 
{{enWP|Public opinion}}
 
{{enWP|Public opinion}}

Latest revision as of 00:28, May 15, 2009

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Public opinion is the aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs held by the adult population. Public opinion can also be defined as the complex collection of opinions of many different people and the sum of all their views. The principle approaches to the study of public opinion may be divided into 4 categories:

a) quantitative measurement of opinion distributions;
b) investigation of the internal relationships among the individual opinions that make up public opinion on an issue;
c) description or analysis of the public role of public opinion;
d) study both of the communication media that disseminate the ideas on which opinions are based and of the uses that propagandists and other manipulators make of these media.


Concepts of “public opinion” Edit

Public opinion as a concept gained credence with the rise of 'public' in the eighteenth century. The English term ‘public opinion’ dates back to the eighteenth century and has derived from the French ‘l’opinion publique’, which was first used in 1588 by Montaigne. This concept came about through the process of urbanization and other political and social forces. For the first time, it became important what people thought, as forms of political contention changed.

Adam Smith, one of the earliest classical economists, refers to public opinion in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, but it was Jeremy Bentham, the famous utilitarian Philosopher, who fully developed theories of public opinion. He opened that public opinion had the power to ensure that rulers would rule for the greatest happiness of the greater number. He brought in Utilitarian philosophy in order to define theories of public opinion.

The German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies, by using the conceptional tools of his theory of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, argued (1922, "Kritik der öffentlichen Meinung"), that 'public opinion' has the equivalent social functions in societies (Gesellschaften) which religion has in communities (Gemeinschaften).[1]

The German philosopher Jürgen Habermas contributed the idea of "Public Sphere" to the discussion of public opinion. Public Sphere, according to Habermas, is where “something approaching public opinion can be formed” (2004, p.351). Habermas claimed that it is featured as universal access, rational debate, and disregard for rank. However, he believed that these three features for how public opinion should be formed are not in place in western democracy. Public opinion, in western democracy, is highly susceptible to elite manipulation.

The American sociologist Herbert Blumer has proposed an altogether different conception of the "public." According to Blumer, public opinion is discussed as a form of collective behavior (another specialized term) which is made up of those who are discussing a given public issue at any one time. Given this definition, there are many publics; each of them comes into being when an issue arises and ceases to exist when the issue is resolved. Blumer claims that people participate in public in different capacities and to different degrees. So, public opinion polling cannot measure the public. An educated individual's participation is more important than that of a drunk. The "mass," in which people independently make decisions about, for example, which brand of toothpaste to buy, is a form of collective behavior different from the public.

Public opinion plays an important role in the political sphere. Cutting across all aspects of relationship between government and public opinion are studies of voting behavior. These have registered the distribution of opinions on a wide variety of issues, have explored the impact of special interest groups on election outcomes and have contributed to our knowledge about the effects of government propaganda and policy. Three communities of people who form Public Opinion 1: Public Leaders and Thinker 2: Common Educated Class 3: Common People

Private opinion and public policyEdit

The most pervasive issue dividing theories of the opinion-policy relation bears a striking resemblance to the problem of monism-pluralism in the history of philosophy. The controversy deals with the question of whether the structure of socio-political action should be viewed as a more or less centralized process of acts and decisions by a class of key leaders, representing integrated hierarchies of influence in society or whether it is more accurately envisaged as several sets of relatively autonomous opinion and influence groups, interacting with representative decisionmakers in an official structure of differentiated governmental authority. The former assumption interprets individual, group and official action as part of a single system and reduces politics and governmental policies to a derivative of three basic analytical terms: society, culture and personality.

The use of public opinion studiesEdit

The rapid spread of public opinion measurement around the world is reflection of the number of uses to which it can be put. Governments have increasingly found surveys to be useful tools for guiding their public information and propaganda programs and occasionally for helping in the formulation of other kinds of policies. The US Department of Agriculture was one of the first government agencies to sponsor systematic and large scale surveys. It was followed by many other federal bodies, including the US information agency which has conducted opinion research in all parts of the world.

Public opinion can be influenced by public relations and the political media. Additionally, mass media utilizes a wide variety of advertising techniques to get their message out and change the minds of people. A continuously used technique is propaganda.

The tide of public opinion becomes more and more crucial during political elections, most importantly elections determining the national executive. Some think the Overton window is a method for shifting or describing the a shift in public opinion.

It is frequently measured using the method of survey sampling.

See also Edit

Organisations
People

Notes Edit

  1. cf. Rolf Fechner/Lars Clausen/Arno Bammé (eds.): Öffentliche Meinung zwischen neuer Religion und neuer Wissenschaft. Ferdinand Tönnies' „Kritik der öffentlichen Meinung“ in der internationalen Diskussion, in: Tönnies im Gespräch, tom. 3, Munich/Vienna: Profil 2005, ISBN 3-89019-590-3.

Bibliography Edit

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