Defining Public Opinion:
Public opinion can be defined as a psychological and social process in which the behaviour of each member of the public is conditional to that of all others with similar beliefs. In short it is the collective views of the people, their attitudes and opinions.
It is the people’s collective preferences on matters relating to government and politics. It is based on the premise that collective individual opinions matters in a democracy and public opinion should carry more weight than individual opinion. Others opine that public opinion can be influenced and controlled by organized groups, government leaders, and media elite.
In fact, democracy derives its authority from the people. Public opinion is not the opinion of an individual, though he or she may be a highly respected person. It is not a private opinion. It is also not an expert opinion, irrespective of the wisdom of the expert. Public opinion is an organized and considered opinion of a section or many sections of the people on any public issue or concern.
Public opinion is an essential element for successful working of a democracy where the views of all citizens are respected and no government can survive by ignoring it.
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