Constructing Public Opinion: How Political Elites Do What by Justin Lewis

By Justin Lewis

Is polling a approach that brings "science" into the research of society? Or are polls crude tools that let us know little concerning the means humans truly imagine? The position of public opinion polls in govt and mass media has received expanding value with each one new election or ballot taken. the following Lewis provides a brand new examine an previous culture, the 1st learn of opinion polls utilizing an interdisciplinary method combining cultural stories, sociology, political technological know-how, and mass conversation. instead of pushing aside polls, he considers them to be an important kind of illustration in modern tradition; he explores how the media document on polls and, in flip, how publicized effects effect the way in which humans reply to polls. Lewis argues that the media are inclined to exclude the extra innovative aspect of renowned opinion from public debate. whereas the media's effect is proscribed, it really works strategically to take care of the facility of pro-corporate political elites.

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Troops in the Persian Gulf in November 1990, Gallup asked this question: All in all, which of these courses of action do you agree with? S. should keep troops, planes, and ships in and around Saudi Arabia as long as it is necessary to prevent Iraq from invading Saudi Arabia, but without initiating a war. S. should initiate a war against Iraq in order to drive Iraq out of Kuwait and bring the situation to a close. (from Meuller 1994, 218) In this instance, the question forces us to reproduce one of the two options promoted by political elites.

Opinions, on the other hand, are generally classified in political or moral terms. But, while the two realms are distinct, they are not mutually exclusive. Statements of fact do exist independently of a political or moral realm, and opinions are informed by what we believe to be certain facts. , those that serve governmental, institutional, or commercial interests). Indeed, facts themselves come inscribed within complex evaluative contexts in which statements of knowledge and opinion intermingle.

Both conceptions were also limited by the nature of that realm: as a category, “the public” left out a majority of the population. Women, slaves, foreigners, laborers, merchants, and farmers were implicitly or explicitly excluded from active participation in civic life. While this exclusion is also embedded in the power structures of ancient Greek society, it suggests something about the notion of the public that is fundamental to its genealogy as a term. This is especially so in the more democratic Aristotelian sense, where matters of inclusion and exclusion are critical to political power.

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