Public opinion: functions, features, stages of formation

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Public opinion: functions, features, stages of formation
Public opinion: functions, features, stages of formation

Currently, the cases of participation of authoritative representatives of the world community in all spheres of the life of the state have significantly increased. This circumstance is one of the reasons that today attract the attention of sociologists and researchers around the world to the phenomenon of "public opinion". This process is really difficult to comprehensively analyze. There are currently many definitions of this term. Despite everything, the generally accepted interpretation of this phenomenon still exists. The main functions of forming public opinion are discussed in the article.


Public opinion is a form of public consciousness that shows the attitude of different social groups to the events and processes of modern life that affect their interests and needs. This phenomenon has an impact on various areas of human life. This process is a collection of individual opinions of individuals or groups of people on a particular issue. This phenomenon isa balanced combination of psychological and social factors on different issues.

social group opinion

The phenomenon is expressed in value judgments (written, oral, printed) or mass speeches (peaceful, military), which are public. Without the necessary conditions for publicity, the phenomenon takes on destructive forms. This point of view is reflected in various author's works, in the media and is considered generally accepted. Such a phenomenon may condemn or support government reforms, reflect the will of the people. Most often, the process manifests itself in judgments that develop into actions. The science of sociology is studying this phenomenon.

The object of a phenomenon is considered to be specific issues or topics about which a certain point of view can be expressed. The subjects are individuals, social groups participating in the discussion. The subject of the phenomenon is social aspects, concepts, formation mechanisms, structure and functions of public opinion.

History and reality

Public opinion has existed for a long time, since ancient times. The term itself appeared in the XII century in England. It was gradually modified from the phrase public opinion. Its origin is connected with the activities of the English educator and writer John Salisbury, which he first used in his book "Polycratic".

From England, the phrase has penetrated the dictionaries of other countries of the world. At the end of the 18th century, the term became generally accepted. The first attempts to investigate the process belong to the beginningXIX century and belong to the works of the English scientist Jeremiah Bentham. He emphasized in his works the great importance of this phenomenon in the life of the state.

public opinion in the 19th century

Public opinion was seen as a way for the public to control government activities. A special place in his writings was given to the press, with the help of which this control was exercised. The press was called a means of expressing public opinion. The functions of the phenomenon were studied and listed later, at the beginning of the 20th century.

Today, public opinion is one of the important, multifaceted phenomena of modern life, which has a huge impact on the development and functioning of social infrastructures. The study of its key aspects is the main issue of different disciplines. This is not only the will of the people. Nowadays, public opinion is a powerful argument used by various politicians, party leaders, and heads of organizations to implement their programs.


There are different prerequisites for the emergence of public opinion (the functions prove this). They can be direct and indirect. The formation of this phenomenon is primarily influenced by government policy and existing legislation. The reason for its appearance may be the activities of trade unions and the established production standards.

Public opinion depends on the economic situation and the position on the market for goods and services. This phenomenon is growing with the emergence of various social and social problems thatregulate the functions of public opinion. Examples confirm this. The reforms of the educational system and personnel changes can serve as the basis for its development. The media are among the tools that manipulate public opinion.


Public opinion is the evaluative side of the consciousness of society. This phenomenon is considered not only the result of such a process. It carries out practical activities to meet the interests and needs of different social groups. The structure of public opinion can be essential and dynamic. In the first group, several components are distinguished, the result of the interaction of which is a social assessment. Namely: emotional, rational, strong-willed.

The emotional element represents the mass mood and social feelings about the object of public opinion. The rational element is people's knowledge of events and facts, phenomena and processes that have become objects of public opinion. The volitional component determines the activities of all subjects of public opinion. The dynamic structure considers, first of all, the process of public opinion from emergence to extinction.

public opinion mistrust

The phenomenon focuses on different points of view on significant issues related to the infrastructure of society. This process is based on the balance and correspondence between the values ​​and goals of society. In modern sociology, three concepts of public opinion have developed: monistic, pluralistic,synthetic. The main properties of public opinion (functions are described below) are: scale, intensity, subjective prevalence, stability, direction, polarity, effectiveness.

Place in infrastructure

Public opinion is a set of judgments, assessments, positions that are shared by the majority of people. It consists in "talking about everything", which should be heard "by all and always". There are technical and political prerequisites for public opinion that are closely intertwined and interrelated. The state provides citizens with freedom of expression, which allows a huge selection of modern technical means (television, the Internet, etc.).

In other words, public opinion (functions depend on the purpose of the process) reflects the position of social groups, parties, organizations regarding the political, social, public situation in the country. This phenomenon has a generally accepted character and is expressed with the help of modern technical means. This phenomenon affects many important events in a person's life.

public opinion condemnation

Meaning and role

What functions of public opinion exist? Public opinion is an important link that regulates relations between people in society. This is the position or opinion of the majority of different age, gender, social status. This phenomenon not only reflects the mass consciousness, but also exercises special control by the public over the administrative infrastructure.

The social functions of public opinion are different depending on the nature of the interaction of individuals or social groups and the content of their positions. They differ in areas of application, that is, in those areas of human life in which they operate.

Specialists distinguish the following main functions of public opinion: expressive, evaluative, regulatory, advisory, directive, analytical, constructive. Modern sociologists consider evaluative and regulatory functions to be the main ones in human life.

individual opinion

Expressive function

This is the largest function of public opinion. Its meaning lies in the fact that the phenomenon is always based on reliable facts and events in the life of society. This feature gives him strength and power over others. It gets the greatest development when it is provided with various forms of control.

Regulatory function

This is one of the oldest forms of public opinion. In a broad sense, it develops certain social relations (in the sphere of religion, science, ideology, etc.). It affects the interests of both individual groups of people and entire organizations. In a narrow sense, this is a function of education. The regulatory function of public opinion is an established set of laws and rules adopted by society that determine the behavior of subjects. Experts put this function on the same level with the right.

Evaluation function

This is the leading function of public opinion. It reflects the value attitude of subjects to the problem of socialreality. In the process of its implementation, the subject expresses his disapproval or approval, distrust or trust in the current situation, in this or that issue. The evaluative function of public opinion is embodied through judgments, assessments, positions and opinions that have an alternative form.

public opinion evaluation function

Advisory and directive functions

These features complement each other. The first of these is the most specific function of public opinion. It is designed to solve important problems and issues in the current situation that arise in different subjects. It is most often expressed theoretically in the form of advice and wishes.

The meaning of the second function is that the public makes decisions on issues that have arisen in various areas of public life. This phenomenon is of a practical nature and is carried out at referendums, elections and other state events.

Constructive and analytical functions

These are two similar related functions. One of them analyzes the existing processes and social attitudes, the other programs them. Making a noteworthy proposal requires a detailed study of the issue under consideration. And the analysis of the issue essentially boils down to making a constructive proposal.

public opinion approval

Shaping mechanisms

The main sources of public opinion formation are: polls, observation and the media, which have a direct impact on the behavior of differentsocial groups of people. Sociologists note several necessary conditions for the emergence of public opinion:

  • relevance, significance of the problem;
  • required level of competence;
  • debatable issues discussed.

There are several stages in the formation of public opinion. Namely: origin, formation, functioning. The origin includes the formation of interests in the problem; an objective assessment of events; media choice.

The formation of a phenomenon consists in the exchange of individual and group positions on any issue. The functioning of public opinion includes an assessment of the position of the majority and its transition from a verbal form to a valid one. These are the functions of forming public opinion. What matters in life is what people say about us, and even more important what other people think of us.

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