PUBLIC OPINION : IT’S FORMATION AND AGENCIES

Public opinion is usually taken as the opinion of the public. In a democratic system public opinion occupies an important place as because public opinion is considered as the voice of the people. By public we do not mean an exact number of individuals or a fixed body of individuals. The word public stands for a section of society who share a common interest, holds similar views and opinion on the matters of public concern. As it is also not necessary that public opinion will be the opinion of all the people as it is also not the opinion of the majority. Public opinion necessarily reflects the diversity of opinion. By this we came to know that public opinion is not the opinion of the individual nor it is a private opinion that has a status symbol or a high standard of living. Further it also should be understood that it is not an opinion of the expert, irrespective of the wisdom of the expert. Public opinion is an organized and a considered opinion of a section or many sections of the people on any public issue and concern.

The formation of public opinion is not an automatic and a definite process rather it is a very complex process of formation. Like, the air cannot be seen but we can feel its presence in the same way public opinion cannot be seen but its effects can be felt. When an issue of public concern emerges the different sections of society express their different viewpoints. These viewpoints emerged through small debates, discussion, views of thinkers, writings of different writers on the present political happenings give either directly or indirectly a kick to the individuals to come across their own view or it may happen that the individuals may directly give a support to the writers view. The view on certain issues perhaps receives a greater attention that emerges as public opinion. There are both formal and informal processes for the formation of the public opinion.

AGENCIES FOR THE FORMATION OF PUBLIC OPINION: There are many agencies which can help in the formation of public opinion. Some of the important agencies of public opinion are mentioned below.

  1. Family and School – family is considered to be the first important centre where public opinion is formed, it is the family where people learn to develop their habits, likes and dislikes. These individual with all this habits emerges in the society and learn to cooperate and non-cooperate with others. When the individual being expresses his opinion in the society that will ultimately become a part of public opinion.
  2. Press: the most useful and effective instrument for the formation of public opinion is the press. It is informative as well as formative of public opinion. It is a medium through which individuals get the information and news on the matter relating to national interest and public interest. A good newspaper, media, press are the mirrors of democracy. The people believe instantly without giving a second thought on whatever it is written on the newspaper or whatever they watch in the channels. Therefore, press is nothing but a strong linkage between the common people and the Government. But, if the press is in the hands of a selfish party, community or the capitalists, than the country will suffer a great un-repairable loss.
  3. Political Parties: it also equally plays an important role in the formation of public opinion. The leader of the political parties have a very strong impact on the ‘people. The political parties undertake many constructive programmes and delivers impressive speeches and conducts different events in the society so as to propagate their ideology. In this way political parties develop and strengthen public opinion.

There are many other agencies like public meetings, political literature, radio, television, cinemas, etc that equally helps in the formation of public opinion.

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