Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Public opinion is the aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs held by the adult population.
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.
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.
Jürgen Habermas, a German, contributed the idea of "Public Sphere" to the discussion of public opinion. Public Sphere, as he argued, is where “something approaching public opinion can be formed”(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.
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. Disturbingly enough, not all people realize propaganda when they see it.
The tide of public opinion becomes more and more crucial during political elections, most importantly elections determining the national executive.
It is frequently measured using the method of survey sampling.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details