PUBLIC'S AND PUBLIC OPINION
The term "public" is used in several senses In popular use, "the public" is synonymous with "the people" or with practically everybody not a very useful concept. Sociologists use the terminator senses: (1) A public may be defined tiered number of people who share an inter.. particular topic. There is a baseball public opera public, an investment public, -If political-affairs public, and' many others. (2) A public may be defined as a number of people who are concerned over, divided upon, and in discussion about an issue. Each important issue thus has its public, 'and there is no such thing as the public under these two definitions. The members of a public are not gathered together like the members of a crowd. Each member of a public can communicate directly with only a handful of the other members. A public is reached mainly through the mass media. The titles of many magazines reveal the public for which each is published-House & _Garden, Field & Stream, Guns &, Ammo Magazine, Western Horseman, Cats Magazine, u.s. Camera, Stamps Magazine, Motor Trend Magazine, The Theater, Workbench, Audio, National Geographic Magazine, Holiday, Pacific Affairs, and hundreds more. Since the members of a public can communicate effectively only: through such mass media, it follows that
those who control the media have considerable power to influence the opinions of that society and the mass media. In traditional that is, few situations develop which cannot societies, chastisement relations predominate handled by following the traditional folk- ante, while an elite rules according to castaways and mores of the society. But in a lashed traditions without very much concern complex, changing culture, issues are con- for anything such as public opinion. If the arising. In other words, situations are ordinary people had been questioned about constantly developing which our traditional current "issues," their usual response would folkways and mores either will not handle at have been one of bewilderment. True enough, all or will handle only. in a way that leaves there were differences of interest and view some groups dissatisfied. For example, should .. point in earlier societies, but these were type "hard" pesticides which remain poisonous thrashed out within the elite without
for a long time (such as DOT) be banned in involving the ordinary exceptionable as they order to protect the environment, or are they suffered the consequences). 'Phelite are no necessary for food production and disease . separated from the non elite and must control? Tradition gives no clear answer. consider nonentity views. Public opinion .In these ways a complex changing culture pends upon having a mass whose' opinions creates a great many publics, each concerned are important to the elite, whereupon differ with an activity, interest, or issue. As the sections of the elite seek to propagandize and manipulate this mass in support of elite interests. Democracies differ from dictatorships in that in democracies different groups among the elite compete vigorously for mass support, whereas in a dictatorship some faction among the elite gains dominance, removes or neutralizes its competitors, and enjoys a monopoly of propaganda .