TOPIC- Social Control by the Public Opinion
Public Opinion is an important agency of social control. As K. Young has said, “Public Opinion consists of the opinion held by a public at a certain time “. According to V. V. Akolkar, “Public opinion simply refers to that mass of ideas which people have to express on a given issue”. Public opinion may be said to be the collective opinion of majority of members of a group.
Public opinion is of great significance especially indemocratic societies. Through public opinion the knowledge of the needs, ideas, beliefs, and values of people can be ascertained. It influences the social behaviour of people. Behaviour of the people is influenced by ideas, attitudes and desires which are reflected by public opinion.
People get recognition and respectability when they behave according to accepted social expectations. Public opinion helps us to know what type of behaviour is acceptable and what is not.
There are various agencies for the formulation and expression of public opinion. The press, radio, movies and legislatures are the main controlling agencies of public opinion.
The ‘press’ includes newspapers, magazines and journals of various kinds. The newspaper provides the stuff of opinion for it covers everyday events and policies. Many decisions of the people are influenced by information available through the press.
As an agency of social control the press seeks to influence the tastes, ideas, attitudes and preferences of the readers. It affects their ideology also. It enforces morality by exposing the moral lapses of the leaders.
Radio is another agency of public opinion that influences behaviour. It influences our language, customs and institutions. It is through the radio that human voice can reach millions of people at the same time. It can dramatise and popularise events and ideas. In the same way, television has also been influencing people’s behaviour.
Movies or motion pictures exert great influence on public opinion. They have effectively changed the attitudes and behaviour of the people. Movie-goers are relaxed and unaware of the fact that they are being affected by ideas and values.
They identify themselves with the leading characters and unconsciously accept the attitudes, values, etc., implicit in the role. Some emotionally disturbed people often search solutions for their problems through, movies. Through films it is possible to improve people’s tastes, ideas and attitudes to some extent.
Legislature at present is the most effective agency for the formulation and expression of public opinion. The debates in the legislatures influence public opinion particularly in democratic system. It makes laws that control people’s life and activities. It should be noted that legislature itself is subject to the influence of the people.
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