Public opinion, 11/3 al 29/4 (2016)

Apunte Inglés
Universidad Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (URJC)
Grado International Relations - 2º curso
Asignatura Public opinion and international journalism
Año del apunte 2016
Páginas 17
Fecha de subida 01/05/2016
Descargas 51
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Vista previa del texto

Public opinion.
María Llanos.
11/03/2016 Stereotyping and invisibility: cultivation and representations of human diversity.
Strategies for packaging stories that diminish risks faced by media producers/distributors/exhibitors.
Interpretive tools for audiences.
Defining lines between “unacceptable” and “acceptable": medium constraints and societal constraints (media works as opinion leaders).
Who controls the media? Implications for selection of general content.
Who is in charge of creating new media content? Implications for development of specific media texts.
One thing is who controls the media as a company (owner) and another one is who produces the media (editor chief in charge of producing the contents).
Demographic patterns in media representations.
 Race. Minorities as social constructions. Who defines “otherness" (“otherness” is built since we are kinds, but who are the others?)? Sometimes minorities are not minorities at all, but they are treated as such. Example: South Africa was considered to be a whit country even though the majority of the population was black/some US states are of black majority, even though considered minorities, as New Orleans or Louisiana.
Presence of different ethnic groups in TV as compared to their US census numbers.
Despite some progress, pervasiveness of stereotypical portrayals: difference between prejudice (sometimes they are not the origin of stereotypes) and stereotype (not all stereotypes are the product of prejudices, sometimes stereotypes have to do with cultural values /the communication industry works like a loop, we have been educated by the media. They are a way to promote the opinion of whatever aspect).
Audience segmentation; content segregation?  Gender. College students' composition versus reality of the market: Ellen DeGeneres is an opinion leader and she cannot free herself from her perfect relation with her wife; we expect it to be beautiful and durable.
Women in media are depicted as young, beautiful, mature and attractive.
Storytelling, cultivating difference: If you are ugly or from a minority you cannot achieve your dreams.
Casting: age, looks, roles (pervasiveness of the young, beautiful, defenceless and/or nurturing).
We are said that if we are from a minority we cannot be considered beautiful, but that is not true (Oprah).
Democracy of audiences: we exercise our democracy through public opinion and social media. Being a leader is not the same as being a politician, while being successful in media means being successful in politics.
Public opinion.
María Llanos.
 Class. Manual, clerical and blue-collar workers are an invisible majority treated as a minority. In the entertainment there is an absence and stereotyping of these people because we do not want stories about poor people. In the news there is an emphasis on the “supply" side of the economy.
Material components of the “American Dream". What defines a successful person? You want to watch a story about teenagers being successful (Gandia Shore: good bodies, handsome and pretty people, etc. Nobody wants to be revolutionary, just accepted).
  Sexual orientation. LGTB populations gradually getting visibility (a segment with high acquisition power. A tolerated presence as long as asexual and non-threatening to the heterosexuals (one of the most powerful groups in economics and politics). Growing access to ownership may change current situation. Nowadays they are more powerful and tolerated groups.
Other populations: body types, disabilities, non-traditional families, religious denominations, and nationalities.
16/03/2016 Demographic patterns in media representations.
The power of storytelling. Learning through fiction values, health patterns, etc.
Cumulative effect of media representations or reality on people's ideas of what is “natural" – cultivation theory.
Violence in media representations. It is used in most media.
It is a primitive concept, we can all recognize it when it happens, but it is difficult to define...
Who (or what) is the victim of violence? Always perpetrated by a person? Does it always have to involve intentionality? Does it always have to involve consequences? Always explicit? Only physical? Fantasy? Humorous or happy? Assessing media violence's perception and effects.
Third-person effect. We see it as another person's problem. We try to ignore those problems, and by doing so we allow evil to continue. Silence spiral (we do not want to talk about poverty, etc.).
Imitation. We tend to imitate what we see in media as if it was normal, without caring about other's feelings. This is a major issue because when people do not have attention and rely only in media they tend to develop this kind of behaviour.
Arousal/Catharsis. It can provoke an explosion of violence.
Public opinion.
María Llanos.
Desensitization. It has to do with the fact that we are not sensible anymore to what we see immediate.
We are so accustomed to what we see in media that we do not feel anything before violence anymore.
When we are too explicit, people do not feel anything any longer; it is not seen as something serious.
When we are so exposed to a content, we try to normalize that content. Sometimes it is even worse if we do not show images because of the power of imagination.
Cultivation effect: mean world syndrome. By watching media we can get to the conclusion that this is a horrible world, thanks to the social construction done through media. Of course part of the reality is bad, mean, but not all of it.
Immediate and long-term effects at the following levels (this is the beginning of the differentiation of classes): o o o o o Behavioural.
Physiological.
Emotional.
Attitudinal.
Cognitive.
We are cultivating audiences that in the future will read the world using those maps/glasses.
Generally speaking, people's perception of violence is directly connected to three factors: Graphicness. We overreact to the absence of violence. When we have too much explicitness in one scene, we tend to close our eyes or look to other side, as if not it would be unbearable.
Offensiveness/seriousness: who's involved.
Trivialization (humour, camouflaging/sanitizing, repetition, lack of context).
Sometimes scenes are built in such a way we do not feel it is violent.
The morphology of storytelling.
Morphology: the study of the form, shape, and structure of something.
Vladimir Propp (1895-1970): a Soviet formalist scholar who analysed the basic plot components of Russian folk tales to identify their simplest reducible narrative elements. He said that each story has a happy end because we always tell the same stories. We only had 3 great books in the history of literature: Don Quixote, the Bible, and the Odisea.
Propp's THESES:     Functions are constant elements in a tale, independent of how or by whom they are enacted. This has also to do with political speech.
The number of functions within a story is limited.
The sequence of functions in a story is constant.
All folktales are of a type in their structure. Structures are practically the same.
Public opinion.
María Llanos.
Function: an action of a character, defines from the point of view of its significance for the plot. Characters usually have to fulfil a concrete task. Sometimes they have to redeem himself for humanity, etc. (The duty of the leader).
The folktale at its core preserves traces of every ancient paganism, customs and rituals. Leaders present themselves as magical solutions.
The folktale is very similar in morphology to the more archaic myths.
The uncorrupted folktale structure is particular to peasants with minimal contact with civilization. The ancient folktales try to preserve the idea that the leader is untouchable, that is above everything.
The identifying features of the folktale: fantastic, told at night, pleasurable, they have good endings, about setting things right, not real but true (you must believe in them; communication products have to be believable), about characters whose names are generic or descriptive.
Institutions provoke a huge distance between the people and the leaders. That's when revolution happens, as people feel they do not participate and leaders do not take them into account. To fill that gap, politicians are starting to use social media and TV shows, although it is not enough for old citizens.
30/03/2016 Characters.
Propp identifies these seven character types:     VILLAIN. Struggles against the hero or heroine. Important to build a villain, even in political communication because that is the way we have learned to build and understand stories.
DONOR. Prepares the hero or heroine or gives the him or her some magical object. More important than the hero himself. He believes in the hero even when the hero is not sure about his own role. In many tales, he is also the one providing the hero with a task. He offers unconditional support to the hero.
The roles of villain and donor can be combined between them. Example: In Shrek, the villain is the donor giving Shrek the task of saving Fiona.
MAGICAL HELPER. Helps the hero or heroine in the quest. He can be a device, a building, a person, a particular object that the person uses to assume some powers. Things that can help the heroes to reassure their own role. In every story you need a magical object that convince the readers that what we are watching is real, and making us to want to be part of the magic. Example: Trump's hair is used as a way to show that he is real.
PRINCESS and her FATHER. Gives the task to the hero or heroine, identifies the false hero or heroine, marries the hero or the heroine, often sought for during the narrative. Propp notes that, functionally, the princess and the father cannot be clearly distinguished. Both need to be saved, but sometime they are like stupid, as they rely on the persons they should not. Sometimes one forces the other to take terrible decisions. These wrong decisions make the hero and his success even greater. Sometimes we present the story even harder and more difficult than it really is.
Example: it was easy for Shrek to save Fiona, but at the end it was not that easy as Fiona was not a normal princess.
Public opinion.
María Llanos.
   DISPATCHER. Makes the lack known and send the hero or heroine off. It can be combined with the DONOR, as it is the one that makes clear that there is a lack (of whatever). In every story we have to tell the audience what they lack, as they not always are sure about it. It is not that easy to identify this character. It is easier in the theatre, as usually there is a character saying what needs to be done and addressing the audience (Shakespeare is very good on that). Example: from the point of view of the ogre, the lack is that Shrek does not think he deserves Fiona. The donkey could play the role of the dispatcher, as he is the one telling Shrek they need him.
HERO/HEROINE or VICTIM/SEEKER. Reacts to the donor, weds the princess or prince.
FALSE HERO or HEROINE. Takes credit for the hero's or heroine’s actions or tries to marry the princess or prince.
Semiotic of tales (Peirce) REFERENCE OR THOUGHT Stands for (an imputed relation) SYMBOL REFERENT 01/04/2016 A sign is the minimum base of a message. Normally language, non-verbal communication, every type of speech has a minimum base of meaning, called the sign or referent. The sign has three types according to Pierce: Icon Peirce's Three Trichotomies of Signs: Index   Symbol An icon. It is the simplest type of sign, and the most accurate one. It is the one who easily connects the referent and the thoughts. It is the easiest way of depicting a thought. A typical icon would be the draw of a house.
The index. It is known to be the type of sign that allows us to get to the reference or object of representation by its symptoms or manifestations. It depicts an object not through the object Public opinion.
María Llanos.
 itself but through the manifestation of its properties. (Something you cannot see but that is there) Example: traffic lights, as they represent the manifestation of an action, not an action in itself.
The symbol. It is the most complex of them. It does not represent the object of represent, but its aura, fetishism, the properties of the object beyond its own existence, not the object but the relation of powers in the object. It is more powerful, as it does not address directly to the object depicted but to the relations of power. It provides us with a common frame of interpretation.
Example: the beaten apple of Apple, as it is more than an icon; it represents status, power, etc.
Meaning of Peirce's Three Trichotomies of Signs (pyramid 2). All types of signs are in a way interconnected.
Meaning of the triangle of the THOUGHT OR REFERENCE (1). Symbols are attached to a person that preforms the role of interpreter, who is the person providing us with the REFERENCE. From here we can build public opinion. We need a strong symbol, sign, normally a symbol, to provide reference or thought anchored to that symbol and also we need this if we want to imply a subject/reference in the process. For example, the Queen of England is a symbol.
Audiovisual language.
CAMERA RANGE: the distance between the camera and object. We have to think of the camera as a living person, even being considered as a character in some movies.
Types of shots: “The subject if always the reference" 1. Extreme long or wide shot. A shot of a large crowd scene or a view of scenery as far as the horizon.
The view is so far from the subject that he isn't even visible. Often used as an establishing shot.
Used when you want to introduce the scenery, the place you are.
2. Long, full or wide shot. A view of a situation or setting from a distance. Often requires the use of a wide-angle lens. The subject is visible, but the emphasis is still on placing him/her in his/her environment. (When the camera is placed from above, it symbolises that the people are subjected to a higher power) 3. Medium long shot. Shows a group of people in interaction with each other, e.g. a fight scene, with part of their surroundings in the picture. It shows the people or object completely, to top to bottom, while interacting, with some distance to the camera. Here you are out of the scene.
4. Full shot. A view of a figure's entire body in order to show action and/or a constellation of characters. Also known as figure shot, complete view, and sometimes even considered as a medium long shot. In this shot, the people are not entirely showed. Here you are inside the scene, you are included.
5. Medium shot, mid shot, medium close shot. A medium shot is framed from the waist up. It is mainly used for a scene when you can see what kind of expressions they are using. The scenery is not the protagonist anymore, the protagonist is the people/object. Typical frame of "Mona Lisa".
6. American shot, ¾ shot. It is a slight variation of the medium shot to also include handgun holsters in Western movies. It was a mistake, but Hollywood took advantage of it to create a new genre: Western, the only typical film industry genre because the other genres come from literature. They need to portray the gun. It takes people from their knee up.
Public opinion.
María Llanos.
7. Close-up. A full-screen shot of a subject's face, showing the finest nuances of expression. You want to portray the expression. Example: Used in scenes of murdered.
8. Extreme close-up. A shot of a hand, eye, mouth or object in detail.
06/04/2016 Culture industry vs. Enlightenment.
Frankfurt School (Horkheimar, Adorno, Fromm). They were all known as being part of the new left in Europe. They believed in Marx's theories, were Jews, which attract troubles to them in Nazi Germany.
They had to leave the country in a hurry (1941). One of them, Walter Benjamin, did not survive the trip.
They set the idea that the French Revolution was to get people out of the Ancien Regime, due to Enlightenment ideas. The problem came when a new regime based in reason was established. The idea of reason was stronger than anything before. Reason as a way to fight the Ancien Regime. Nowadays we use reason to deal with our problems. Reason has become a way of social control in our times.
Concept of hegemony, hegemonic thinking, which has to do with that all of us participate of this social control that controls our way of thinking. The idea of repetition leads us to the idea of social control. We cannot get away of the industry, as it is everywhere, forcing us to pay attention to it.
Reason, supposed to set us free, is now working against us as a result of hegemony and the culture industry, which controls us. We are deemed to be a teenagers until we are 40 because of the ideas the media impose on us, giving us wrong ideas about reality. We rely on a world and kind of ethics that does not exist.
Culture industry transforms popular culture into mass culture. Example: Songs, as some of them take ancient and traditional rhythms and transform them into popular and world-known rhythms.
Somethings that are not rational are presented as being rational. Movements that are not political in the strictest sense, but they have consequences. Increasing opposition to our “rational" thinking or at least to the way it is presented. It is to force us to participate in the social system, because if we go against it it will collapse. It does not collapse because it is working on our natural desires, as a way of maintaining itself. For example, we do not want to lose our teeth.
The problem is that we want to live our life as if we were in a TV show. We are out of reality, full of stereotypes.
Marcuse: One dimensional man.
POINT OF VIEW (VIEWPOINTS): the position from which the camera is filming.
a) Point-of-view shot, POV-shot. Shows a scene from the perspective of a character. We have the perspective of the character, feeling we have his/her power. In it we are more exposed to the power of images. We are participating of the actions, not just watching it. It makes us to focus on the action.
b) Over-the-shoulder shot. Often used in dialogue scenes, a frontal view of a dialogue partner from the perspective of someone standing behind and slightly to the side of the other partner, so that parts of both can be seen. It provokes the sensation of being involved in the scene but from some distance. We can see the other people's reaction.
Public opinion.
María Llanos.
c) Reaction shot. Short shot of a character's response to an action.
d) Insert shot. A detail shot which quickly gives visual information necessary to understand the meaning of a scene, for example a newspaper page, or a physical detail. The camera pans over the scene showing photos/objects telling a story or something important, thus manipulating us to grab into the scene.
e) Reverse-angle shot. A shot from the opposite perspective, e.g. after an over-the-shoulder shot.
f) Hand-held camera. A camera is held in the camera operator's hands as opposed to being mounted on a tripod or other base.
CAMERA ANGLES. Another way of talking about power, enlightenment.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Over-head shot. The highest.
High angle. A little bit over the head, especially used with politicians.
Normal or eye-level angle. Equal relation. Looking for complicity with the person (adds).
Low angle (slightly below). To show us we are inferior.
Below angle. At the level of the floor.
High angles depict an image of power. When we have a low angle, the person in power is the one depicted, not the one we are looking at.
08/04/2016 Combination of camera angles, point of view, and camera range: a. Aerial shot, high angle, overhead shot: long or extreme long shot of the ground from the air.
Portray of a city, place, making the audience to assist to the scene as if we were God. We are the narrator, outside the story.
b. High-angle shot: shows people or objects from above, i.e. higher than eye level.
c. Low-angle shot, below shot: shows people or objects from below, i.e. lower than eye level. It is used in thriller movies.
d. Eye-level shot, straight-on angle: views a subject from the level of a person's eyes.
CAMERA MOVEMENT.
1. Panning: the camera pans (moves horizontally) from left to right or vice versa across the picture.
Movement of the camera, not of the lens.
2. Tilt: The camera tilts up (moves upwards) or tilts down (moves downwards) around a vertical line.
Movement of the camera from up to down or down to up. It is used when you look someone from head to feet.
3. Tracking shot/trucking shot: the camera follows along next to or behind a moving object or person. It is the use of panning or tilt in a shot. Example: a runner in the Olympic Games.
4. Zoom: the stationary camera appears to approach a subject by 'zooming in’, or to move farther away by 'zooming out'.
Practice.
Watch a documentary and: Public opinion.
María Llanos.
1.- identify the opinion leader, and give examples. Also try to identify a two-step flow of communication, with examples (from mass media to opinion leader, and to opinion leader to the rest of the public).
2.- Identify at least three camera shots, 3 movements, and 3 angles. And try to give your opinion or example on the use.
Shot: aerial, Angles: three-quarter, below, Movements: panning, tracking shot, 3.- Try to identify a symbol (representation of a system of ideas that are beyond to the object itself), an index (the representation of an object through the manifestation of the properties of the object), and an icon (simplest sign). Example: a photo is an icon. Sometimes, the strongest meaning of a symbol is unconnected with the actual object. Its meaning has a strong persuasion, as it is capable of convincing the others. A symbol is very powerful and difficult to build.
4.- Try to identify at least 3 stereotypes, particularly those from the culture industry and connected to it.
13/04/2016 Public opinion.
The concept is recent compared with other concepts.
The origins of our modern conception of public opinion are usually traced to liberal democratic theories of the eighteenth century (Enlightenment), with precursors reaching all the way back to ancient Greece.
Habermas: the idea of public opinion is an idea of the eighteenth century.
Despite the encouragement of leading researchers such as Berelson (father of the effects and concepts of communication) (1952), Lazarsfeld (1957), and Noelle-Neumann (1979), public opinion researchers have only recently taken up the task of trying to integrate empirical and philosophical models.
Lazarsfeld: two-step flow or process of communication. It is established 1) from media to public opinion leaders, and then 2) from the leaders to the rest of the people.
Lazarsfeld invented the concept of opinion leader. Then problem in communication flows is that not everybody is interested in every aspect of media every time, that we have different desires, dispositions, towards some contents. And thanks to this phenomenon, the opinion leader is in charge of providing the rest of the group, the mass, with the contents the mass does not acquire directly. It is not only that we do not know the information, or that we do not have it available, so the leader has the task of providing the Public opinion.
María Llanos.
information, of establishing a link between mass media and the rest of the public, and of establishing an agenda for the people, as we will consume the information provided by the opinion leader. It has to do with the fact that we follow all the time opinion leaders, even when we are not unaware. Young people does not trust sellers any longer, while older people still trust in the goodwill of the sellers.
Noelle-Neumann. Spiral of silence theory. There is like a tornado of opinion, working all the time, from the basis of our society to public spaces. All the time, public opinion, are being selected and pushed over this public space (the top of the tornado). The problem is that there is a force that comes from that public space, that pushes back all minorities (minority opinions) and opinions that go against the status quo. So different opinion are torn apart public spaces and that tornado. This is the reason why in the public space there is an absence of issues, topics, which affect society. This absence is disturbing. Example: in a group of friends the will of the majority prevails, while the minority has to remain in silence.
Gate keeper= opinion leader. They act as gate keepers of the information by keeping the information from the media to the rest of the audience. They work in the media, as they are anchors, journalists, etc.
However, there are other that work for no body, who are like the “natural" opinion leaders, for instance, in a family, when one of its members is an expert in some field, so the others use him/her as a source for advice. The problem is that although things can seem easy, happy, and quiet in public opinion, it most of the times does not reflect reality, but the public opinion of the upper classes, and not that of the rest of the population/majority. Sometimes what media does is to distract people from real problems.
The concept of public opinion emerged during the Enlightenment, but the separate concepts of the public and opinion have much older stories.
Opinion was used primarily in two ways. In an (1) epistemological sense, opinion indicated a particular and to some extent inferior way of knowing, distinguishing a matter of judgement (an “opinion") from a matter known as fact or asserted on faith. In this context, this was important for the Sophists, while preparing leaders to talk in the agora. Aristotle was the first one talking about the power of communication, the importance of convincing the others, etc. In fact, we still use his advices and tricks nowadays. Opinion is considered to be an inferior knowledge.
In the (2) second sense, the term was used to indicate regard, esteem, or reputation (as in holding a high opinion of someone).
Both senses relate to the notion of judgement, though in the one case the emphasis is on the uncertain truth-value of something believed, whereas in the other the emphasis is on a moral dimension of judgement, that is, approval or censure.
The term public, from the Latin publicus meaning “the people", similarly had several discernible meanings. In some of its earliest uses it referred to common access, with areas open to the general population deemed public. In a second usage, public referred to the common interest and common good, not in the sense of access (or belonging to) but rather in the sense of representing (that is, in the name of) the whole of the people. Here it is the origin of phrases such as “the common will".
The compound concept public opinion came into widespread use only in the eighteenth century and as the product of several significant historical trends, primarily the growth of literacy, expansion of the merchant classes, the Protestant Reformation, and the circulation of literature enabled by the printing Public opinion.
María Llanos.
press. The notion of public communion and communication are very deep related because of the influence of the printing press.
Models of public opinion: 1. Rational model, from Habermas (he invented it). All individuals are moved by the idea of consensus, we need as human beings to agree to other human beings, we need to have peace although we are violent and problematic, and we look desperately for that. That's why public opinion serves to this purpose of consensus and having peace.
2. Social/anthropologist model, from Noelle-Neumann. The real problems is that even if we do not want to, the society builds up a public opinion apart from our will. The process of building public opinion are social, they exist apart from our own existence, and that is the problem.
3. Instrumental or social control model, from Niklas Huhmann (opponent to Habermas). Public opinion is an instrument for the social control, it is like the looking glass of Alice in the Wonderland. The ruling classes just show us what to think about. They just use communication to ignore our desires and to persuade us of thinking in some specific situations, beliefs, or thoughts, that are not the thoughts of the majority but those of the minority, although presented as the thought of the majority. Example: vaccines for a supposed extreme dangerous flu.
15/04/2016 An ascendant class of literate and well-read European merchants, congregating in new popular institutions such as salons and coffee houses and emboldened by new liberal philosophies arguing for basic individual freedoms, began to articulate a critique of royal absolutism and to assert their interests in political affairs. Here the public sphere began. In these kind of meetings the rebellion of the British colonies in America began.
Could we talk of public opinion in ancient Greece? No, because the concept is modern, although some kind of public opinion could exist before, but not with this name. Besides, only those men in charge of a family or with some purchasing power could go to the agora and talk, therefor excluding the other people.
When is the moment in which public opinion became important? In the Enlightenment, because everybody could go to a salon and talk about the situation, freedom, etc., discussing about the problems of society. However, the bourgeois class once in power worked a system of exclusion towards the proletariat.
In early usage, public opinion referred to the social customs and manners of this growing class of prosperous “men of letters" (merchants who believed that education and instruction were the keys of success) but by the close of the century it was being used in an expressly political context, often in conjunction with cousin phrases such as “common will", and “public conscience". Education was promoted by many governments (France, UK, etc.), as Spain did not promote it, the country lacked of an important educational system, thus going behind the other countries. The idea of a nation comes from the existence of a common public opinion, and mass media during this time.
It was linked quite explicitly with free and open discussion of political affairs among educated men of financial means. Yet it often acquired (as in the writings of Rousseau) and abstract and almost superhuman quality as an expression of the common will, divined through reasoned debate, and framed as a powerful new tribunal for checking and thus controlling, as right would have it, the actions of the state.
Public opinion.
María Llanos.
Only educated men, not women or non-literate men were included in Habermas' theory. Public opinion should arise as a fourth power; the common will should be as powerful as the other powers (Rousseau), thus regulating the other powers of the state (judicial, executive, and legislative).
The early development and use of the concept of public opinion, then, were part and parcel of the Enlightenment project to replace European monarchies with civil democracies.
What the Enlightenment accomplished, according to Peters (1995), was to transform the classical assembly of the people -in Athenian democracy a physical face-to-face forum- into a mass-mediated, fictive body constituted by newspapers bringing people together, not in physical space but in shared stories and conversations at a distance (Habermas). We have a common frame of living mass media. This process speeded up after World War II, with the Americans having the huge mass media industry influencing the whole world, and been imposed in some countries as Japan. Some media products and being imported and produced in other countries where they were not originated.
“The imagined public is not, however, imaginary: in acting upon symbolic representations of 'the public' the public can come to exist as a real actor".
Despite references to “democratic theory" and “classical democratic theory" that imply some sort of unified conception of democracy, writings on the subject offer myriad competing models. We can have different types of democracy depending on the country we are. In fact, former communist countries claim they have had real and true democracy, a democracy coming from the people.
Indeed, while democracy is generally held to mean “rule by the people", there has been historically some dispute over the definition of “the people", and, even more so, over just what it means for them to “rule".
So the problem comes when trying to define “the people”, as different meanings can have different implications. And the same happens with “rule".
22/04/2016 In representative democracy, you do whatever you want until elections come. At that time you have to consider public opinion. In direct democracy, the opinion of the majority is always important. In an assembly-like-party, you need the support of the people.
We have four basic models to understand democracy: 1. Fifth-century Athenian democracy, with its sovereign assembly of the whole citizenry. In the Greek civilization, they gathered at assemblies where just some people could attend (it can be seen in the Council of elders). The most important time of Greek power and supremacy, was the time in which democracy was weaker, in which the assembly did what the leader wanted. SO the leader was deciding what to do without consulting the people. The concept of democracy was quickly abandoned and replaced with that of dictatorship (a strong leader taking decisions).
Discussing everything was not practical, so their democracy evolved into our representative democracy, with the population trusting a leader, or some representatives. In that way they arrived to dictatorship, as the leader took decisions without consulting the population.
2. Republicanism, from its Roman and Italian Renaissance manifestations through the Enlightenment conceptions of Rousseau. Republicanism was one of the most interesting ideas of Enlightenment: the king/prince is elected by the people, and not imposed because of his blood. It Public opinion.
María Llanos.
explains why Italy and Germany did not emerge as a central state, but took so long for them to reunify and emerge as centralized countries. In the meanwhile, in Central Europe the state was represented by the king. Need of a balance between democracy, a leader, and many leaders. In a one-leader country, difficulties can be overcome easier, as nothing has to be discussed. However, in the long term democracies are more efficient. Athens vs. Sparta (no one remembers them apart from the film).
3. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century liberal democracy, with its commitment to individual rights and electoral representation. Spain failed to adapt to this change, as it succeeded in maintain the absolute monarchy, the Catholic Church, etc. France succeeded in this change, and Britain as well, although it was a product of a pact.
4. Marxist models of direct democracy, predicated on complete economic and political equality. It is supposed to be participatory, as a way of turning back to Greece democracy.
Worry over the emotionality and irrationality of ordinary citizens, and a near complete lack of confidence in their ability to discriminate intelligently among various policies, led some democratic theorists to fear that catering to a “popular will" would prove at the least inefficient and at the worst disastrously unstable, particularly in times of cultural and political stress. So public opinion has to be dominated, or at least influenced; this is the task of public opinion.
When you are politician or when you work as an assistant to a politician, you can never attack the press.
The people writing the news are human beings, so the press cannot never be 100% objective, as human beings cannot be 100% objective.
A useful matrix for conceptualizing the complex, temporally extended process of collective decision making was proposed by Price and Neijens (1997). Their matrix serves our particular purposes here by illustrating and summarizing a very wide range of possible collective decision-making processes.
Price and Neijens note general similarities between traditional models of the stages through which public opinion develops (e.g., in the work of Bryce, 1888) and the phases of decision making later adopted by decision analysts and policy researchers.
Five main phases of collective decision making can be described: 1. First is the process of eliciting values, sometimes called the “problem" stage, which involves recognizing a matter of collective worry or concern, and then articulating various goals thought to be important in addressing the issue. It is something we let the media do, as they are the ones telling as what to think. However, also society has a word on it, as sometimes civil society talks about thing the media does not want to talk about.
2. Next is a phase that involves developing options or proposals for resolving the problem, and shifting these down into a small set of potentially viable alternatives. We find the “solution" and say who should be the one that should take care of it.
3. Once these have been developed, decision makers turn to estimating consequences of selecting one over another option, a task that often falls to technical and policy experts. In it, causes and consequences are considered. Decisions are left to be taken by others, by experts. You go to other people to take decisions. This is the moment when democracy starts to fail. The issue is not in the public sphere, as it still has not received so much attention as in the fourth stage.
Public opinion.
María Llanos.
4. The fourth stage involves evaluating the alternatives, which advocates of competing options actively engaged in persuasive appeals aimed at garnering both public and elite support, and the issue typically receiving broad media attention through news coverage and opinion polling. This is the moment when public opinion starts to function as public opinion, as the people start to focus on this issue. The issue starts to be built by the media and polls. Here the issue gets all the attention by the public, thus getting to the public sphere and being covered by all media.
5. This public debate ultimately leads to the making of a decision, either through bureaucratic or governmental action or in some cases by electoral choice. So someone has to make a decision.
27/04/2016 The simple notion that citizens elect representatives who implement policies with which they agree is central to democratic theory. In this way, all citizens can pursue their own interests as well as the interests of the common good in an orderly and efficient way. Example: In the US, they have the thought that they can and must rebel against authorities if they do not act properly.
Rawls: what is justice? What are its limits? Everybody decides what is just and what is not, but justice is when we have the opportunities according to our position, and not equal opportunities. We should not have equal opportunities, but balanced opportunities, saying that minorities and people in danger of exclusion must have greater attention than the people that is not in this situation. The balance is not equality but an equilibrium: you receive the attention that you need, no more or less. So lucky and rich people should not be so much helped, or helped at all.
Second part of Rawls: the person who has less social presence (it is not only about money but also social conditions, race, etc.), has more risks of being excluded, should be much helped as in order to get beyond his condition.
Equity: we have to respect the differences, but give further attention to those people of minorities being less favoured. Example: case of the women; we have to respect the differences between them and men, but at the same time have to favour them in order to reach an equity between men and women. Equity not the same as equality.
This is the base of nowadays’ problems: refugees, gay couples, etc.
The common good is a decision manipulated. Who decides what the common good is? The common good is a result of the public opinion discussion, People consider what is good and what is not good. They do this in democracy by voting, deciding who is the best to defend the common good. Problem: why only in elections? So the common good would be decided by majorities, most of the times even without consensus. Mass media is used by the majority to participate in their decisions, therefore trying not to exclude them.
Public opinion is an instrument of the institutions to control our minds because nobody dares to go against the opinion of the majority (the common good). You need to persuade the majority to do your will.
Determinants of political knowledge.
How do we access to political knowledge?  Incidental media exposure. People sometimes learn about the political world through incidental exposure to news media coverage of politics. This has to do with the fact that media are pervasive, Public opinion.
María Llanos.
they go to our aspect of our life and society. It is nowadays one of the most important ways of accessing politics. Candidates maximize their presence on TV. Example: image I hate news, so I watch talk shows. Politicians get to me through these talk shows, because it is a way of knowing them in an “incidental” manner.
 Non-selective media exposure. People also intentionally expose themselves to information about the political world. Many people tune in to general television or radio news programs or regularly visit pages on the World Wide Web that cover a range of political topics, for example, leading to increases in political knowledge. Example: You just what sports and things related to it, and suddenly politics mixes with them so it can reach you.
 Issue-specific selective attention. People are selective not only in terms of the overall amount of attention they pay to the news media, but also regarding the amount of attention they pay to coverage of specific issues. People who do not watch the news, but only the things their candidate says. Example: we follow all that happens with Pedro Sanchez.
But why do people attach importance to some issues and objects and not to others? Three primary antecedents of attitude importance have been identified: 1. People attach importance to some attitudes because they perceive that the attitude object impinges on their material self-interests. For example, senior citizens who rely on Medicare would be especially likely to attach importance to their attitudes toward new Medicare policies. Attitude has three levels: 1) informational (rational), 2) emotional (irrational, and one of the most important as we usually let our emotion to decide), and 3) action or performance (what we finally do thanks to our attitude). The three levels support that attitudes can be strong or weak, positive or negative, etc. If my attitude is positive and strong, I am going to do whatever in order to get it (example of the shampoo). We attach tags to all objects in reality even if we do not know it, and attitudes are related with that.
2. People attach importance to other attitudes because they perceive a link between the attitude object and their core values. Values refer to a person’s fundamental beliefs about how people ought to behave, or about what end-states are desirable. Example: vote Sanchez because I like suits and he always wears a suit.
3. Finally, people attach importance to some attitudes because the groups or individuals with whom they identify are materially affected by the object or consider their attitudes toward the object to be important.
29/04/2016 Public opinion as measured.
Pollsters claim their task to be one of measuring public opinion, “taking the pulse of the public". The everyday use of the word 'measurement' assumes that 1) there is a reliable, I.e., replicable, measuring instrument, 2) there is something to be measured, and 3) the resulting measure accurately represents a quality of the measured object.
Public opinion.
María Llanos.
Other point of view: As human beings that we are, we are building our opinions not only based on maths, but also on feelings and emotions. Our trust in maths, as a way of quantifying the social phenomenon, should not be that strong, because the social phenomenon is not really quantified.
Banality of evil, Hannah Arendt.
She tried to explain rationally how a human being, the German civil population, simply did not notice what was going on in front of their noses during the Second World War in what concerned the Jews and their extermination. The problem is that people knew but they decided to shut up and look to another way, therefore avoiding to talk about the problem.
A lot of authors also tried to explain it. How is it possible that some persons can be evil and at the same time be nice? From a sociological point of view, we tend to ignore those problems that attack our core of beliefs, and we tend to look for the equilibrium. That's why for instance, we are not all the time thinking in the refugee crisis; we try to be the same person.
She said that the problems was that he was a human being able to be evil in some aspects of his life and be, at the same time, evil in some other aspects. All of us have in our inside both evil and good feelings.
Problem: how can we measure this? We cannot, as it is like a virus that only appears in some circumstances. We have to be there, looking at the facts at any moment in order to know when that evil part comes up. It is impossible sometimes to take a picture of a social phenomenon because social phenomenon have to do with circumstances. The problem is how you use one dimension or the other, so it is difficult to measure when any of them are used or will be used.
Opinion is not always solid, sometimes it is like air. How can we understand opinion if it cannot be measured in a reliable way? So they decided it was better to study the attitudes than the opinions in itself.
What polls measure are the attitudes and not their opinions, as they are the sociological bases of the opinion itself. It also helps when people do not want to give their opinions regarding some issues, thus looking to other side and not facing the problems.
In the opinion level, you verbalize why you do not like something anymore, but in the attitude level is where the opinion really begins, that is why sometimes we cannot explain why we feel this way or another.
So opinions can change depending on the situation. Normally, in front of the camera, people change because they know they are being watched. When a person knows that he is being watched he changes his behaviours because he know he is being judged.
However, you cannot access attitudes either. The only way is through scales and interpreting attitudes.
Attitude is an artificial concept, created to understand the thoughts of the people or of the society.
3 scales (typical measure or instrument to measure attitudes and, therefore, opinions, being the attitudes the foundation of an opinion) for measuring opinion:  Thurstone's scales. They are normally propositions that we show to a person and the person must choose between three and five propositions, which are always in impair numbers (1, 3, 5, 7, ...) and which try to be exclusive (excluding the other ones), and therefore obliges you to choose the one more closer to your opinion. They are also always asserted (ex: I believe that Mr. Trump is always ... and the options). When the person interviewed does not agree with any of the propositions, he finally choses the one closer to his thoughts. Deep inside, that person convinces Public opinion.
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himself of the proposition chosen by him. Finally, people end believing this and sharing a frame of interpretation. Through this, we create artificially public opinion. It forces people to make their minds, but always within the frame of the options provided. This is why pollsters are the ones making public opinion. By forcing you to take an option, it makes you to accept some things you did not think at the beginning, therefore forcing us to incorporate that into our core of beliefs and making us to say something we did not think at the beginning.
Social sciences also help to build states of opinion. Sometimes be the first in the polls is not good, as sometimes people can mobilize and vote the second in order to make a change. Therefore, polls are another campaign instrument, rather than a measure instrument.
 Likert's scales. This method gives you a proposal (I believe that Mr Trump is the best) and five different options to give your opinion (strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, strongly agree).
If you choose “strongly agree", it means you are not subordinated to a campaign, because you are already convinced, so nobody needs to convince you. If you choose “agree", you need a small push in order to vote for the candidate. If you choose “neutral", you are the best subject and investment for a political campaign. However, if you choose “disagree" or “strongly disagree", you are discarded as voter and subject of a campaign. By doing it, you separate the voting population.
Then, new propositions are given, emphasizing the characteristics of the candidate. In that way, you know which elements need too be emphasized and worked on, therefore gaining more voters. With this, you know how to impact and what is your target.
 Semantic differential scales. It looks for the role of meanings and is the typical scale that says a sentence (I think mister Trump is ...) and gives some adjectives or words and their antonym (badgood, rich-poor, ugly-handsome/beautiful, etc.) making you to choose one. New problem: need to know what people consider opposite to. The pair of adjectives depends on the cultural and linguistic community you are into. Normally bad things are all allocated in the left, and goods things in the right, as people think that positive things are always to the right. A good poll would mix good and bad things, not placing all of them in the same column, and then forcing the person to read. Graphic polls are used sometimes in order to avoid the different meanings of some adjectives for people from different cultures (ex: smileys).
If researchers were interested in a collective behaviour that changes or directs the dynamics of society avoiding the mentalist construction of 'opinion'- they might be lead to other public “repertories" (Tilly 1983) like riots, petitions, demonstrations, town hall meetings, refusals to paying taxes, lobbies, pressure group, money flows to political parties, popular media content, and so on. But by calling their object of research 'public opinion’, pollsters confine themselves to find out what people say they think, believe, know, or judge. So we have that pollsters usually focus on just one part of public opinion, not taking into account the public opinion we could obtain from “violent" manifestations. Therefore, these issues are not taking into public opinion.
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Comentario de econtidelatorre en 2016-05-02 22:04:55
Mil gracias María, están genial