Public Opinion (Media Studies)

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  • A product of people conversing among themselves about issues of common interest, it is much more than the sum of private opinions held by individuals. Interpersonal communi cation, individual opinions, mass communication, and public opinion are interactive.

    In 1898, the French social psychologist Gabriel Tarde developed a model linking the press, conversations, opinion formation, and the resulting social and political action. The press set the agenda, dictating the topics of conversations held by the people, where opinions were developed during interpersonal debates, leading directly to some action being taken.

    Hans Speier, in 1950, described public opinion as communication with two important components. First, people talked with each other, then the results of their deliberations were communicated upward to those in power. He saw that freedom of expression ...

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