“The Game-Decider”

Public opinion is a concept that 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. 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 opined 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. (Based entirely on what’s been presented, how is the White House doing regarding public opinion?)

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.

The iconic American, 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. Now, that’s a stretch! (Do you believe this definition?)

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.

For those who wish to be successful in political life it seems to us that each member should have their own public awareness official whose sole intention is to monitor their effects regarding this, what we refer to as “The Game-Decider.”

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