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Public opinion is usually defined as a position on a certain issue shared by a majority of a society within defined boundaries (usually within a nation-state but also in a region, a city, or even the world’s population). This definition has been criticized for several drawbacks. First, it is unclear how large a majority has to be to qualify for representing the whole public. In practice, when two or more different positions on the same issue have compatible shares of followers, it is correct to say that “the public is divided” but not “the public opinion is divided,” because in such a case, a cleavage in society implies the absence of public opinion.

Pierre Bourdieu, the famous French sociologist of culture, elaborated on the possibility of ...

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