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Polling and Public Opinion

The English term public opinion is derived from the French l’opinion—which was first used in 1588 by Michel de Montaigne—and dates back to the 17th century. This concept developed along with the processes of industrialization and urbanization that gave rise to modern societies in the West. For the first time in history, what people thought became important for the organization of the polity, as forms of political contention changed.

In his influential treatise An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke considered that man was subject to three laws: (1) the divine law, (2) the civil law, and (3) the law of opinion or reputation, to which Locke attributed the highest importance because, according to him, dislike and ill opinion force people to conform in their behavior ...

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