Public Opinion

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Createspace Independent Pub, 2011年5月20日 - 234 頁
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Public Opinion, by Walter Lippman, is a critical assessment of functional democratic government, especially the irrational, and often self-serving, social perceptions that influence individual behavior, and prevent optimal societal cohesion. The descriptions of the cognitive limitations people face in comprehending their socio-political and cultural environments, proposes that people must inevitably apply an evolving catalogue of general stereotypes to a complex reality, rendered Public Opinion a seminal text in the fields of media studies, political science, and social psychology. The introductory first part describes man's inability to functionally perceive and accurately interpret the world with much accuracy: “The real environment is altogether too big, too complex, and too fleeting for direct acquaintance”, between people and their environment (reality). That people construct a pseudo-environment that is a subjective, biased, and necessarily abridged mental image of the world; therefore, to a degree, everyone's pseudo-environment is a fiction. Hence, people “live in the same world, but think and feel in different ones”. Human behavior is stimulated by the person's pseudo-environment and then is acted upon in the real world. The chapter highlights some of the general implications of the interactions among one's psychology, environment, and the mass communications media. The second part describes the social, physical, and psychological barriers impeding man's ability to faithfully interpret the world; “Chapter II: Censorship and Privacy”; “Chapter III: Contact and Opportunity”; “Chapter IV: Time and Attention”; and “Chapter V: Speed, Words, and Clearness” describe how, for a given event, all of the pertinent facts are never provided completely and accurately; how, as a fraction of the whole, they often are arranged to portray a certain, subjective interpretation of an event. Often, those who know the “real” (true) environment construct a favorable, fictitious pseudo-environment in the public mind to suit his or her private needs. Propaganda is inherently impossible without a barrier of censorship — between the event and the public — thus, the mass communication media, by their natures as vehicles for informational transmission, are immutably vulnerable to manipulation. Lippman contends that when properly deployed in the public interest, the manufacture of consent is useful and necessary for a cohesive society, because, in many cases, “the common interests” of the public are not obvious, and only become clear upon careful analysis of the collected data — a critical intellectual exercise in which most people either are uninterested or incapable of doing. Therefore, most people must have the world summarized for them by the well-informed, and will then act accordingly.

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LibraryThing Review

用戶評語  - Paul_S - LibraryThing

Insightful and timeless. I didn't realise until halfway through that this was written a century ago. Makes good points about the problems with democracy and limits to informed decision making. 閱讀評論全文

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關於作者 (2011)

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) was an American intellectual, writer, reporter, and political commentator famous for being among the first to introduce the concept of Cold War. Lippmann was twice awarded (1958 and 1962) a Pulitzer Prize for his syndicated newspaper column, "Today and Tomorrow.

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