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Public Opinion

Quote of the Week

Sina Odugbemi's picture

That all authority in the last analysis rests on opinion is never more forcefully demonstrated than when, suddenly and unexpectedly, a universal refusal to obey initiates what then turns into a revolution. To be sure, this moment – perhaps the most dramatic moment in history – opens the doors wide to demagogues of all sorts and colours, but what else does even revolutionary demagogy testify if not to the necessity of all regimes, old and new, ‘to rest on opinion’? Unlike human reason, human power is not only ‘timid and cautious when left alone’, it is simply non-existent unless it can rely on others; the most powerful king and the least scrupulous of all tyrants are helpless if no one obeys them, that is, supports them through obedience; for, in politics, obedience and support are the same.

- Hannah Arendt (1963) On Revolution (p. 228)

Blogging and the Flooded Brain

Sina Odugbemi's picture

What you are reading here is a technical blog. In the World Bank they are (pretentiously?) known as 'Expert Blogs'. I post these reflections once a week, for instance, and, as you would expect, I tend to think about them before I do so. But, as we all know, all over the world these days are bloggers of a very different kind. They blog not only everyday but several times a day.

Quote of the Week

Antonio Lambino's picture
"And it should be realized that taking the initiative in introducing a new form of government is very difficult and dangerous, and unlikely to succeed. The reason is that all those who profit from the old order will be opposed to the innovator, whereas all those who might benefit from the new order are, at best, tepid supporters of him. This lukewarmness arises partly … from the skeptical temper of men, who do not really believe in new things unless they have been seen to work well. The result is that whenever those who are opposed to change have the chance to attack the innovator, they do it with much vigour, whereas his supporters act only half-heartedly; so that the innovator and his supporters find themselves in great danger."

- Niccolo Machiavelli (1532), The Prince

 

Naming and Framing Policy Issues

Antonio Lambino's picture

The importance of framing policy issues has made repeat performances on this blog.  As Kathleen Hall Jamieson simply puts it, frames influence the ways in which we think about things, emphasizing some aspects of a phenomenon and deemphasizing others.  Recently in The New York Times, John Broder wrote about the framing of environmental issues in an article entitled “Seeking to Save the Planet, With a Thesuarus.”  Broder's piece reports on a document that was accidentally sent to media organizations by EcoAmerica, an organization that has been conducting public opinion research on framing and reframing of environmental issues to build public support for policy change.  Here are some findings, as reported by Broder:

Four Days with Asian Reform Managers

Antonio Lambino's picture

Close to 30 government officials from seven Asian countries* recently participated in CommGAP’s workshop on communication and governance reform.  Entitled People, Politics, and Change, the workshop was held in Manila, Philippines from April 20 to 23.  The participant pool included a few high level officials, both cabinet ministers and national parliamentarians.  Also in the group were governance specialists from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), and the World Bank’s newly established regional governance hub in Bangkok.  Observers included representatives from the Asian Institute of Management and the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication

Quote of the Week

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

"Public opinion seems to achieve integration: the individuals trying to avoid isolation are ready to compromise, thereby furnishing society with some common ground which, as is generally acknowledged, is a condition for the society's survival. Public opinion seems to stabilize societies. Partly this is a consequence of integration but it is more. Political scientists interested in developing societies complain that the lack of public opinion, or of an infrastructure of consensus among persons interested in the political sphere, leads to extreme and frequent upheavals. Public opinion establishes priorities. In the field of communication research, this is called the agenda-setting function. It dictates what problems society deems to be its most urgent tasks. Public opinion confers legitimation. It is striving for consensus (exerting strong conformity pressure on the individuals), defending established norms, or creating those which in turn will be legally sanctioned. This is the meaning of 'all governments rest on opinion.'"

Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann

Breaking the Spiral of Silence About Corruption

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

There's nothing worse that can happen to a young scholar at her first conference presentation than having one of the big founders of one's academic field sit in the first row and stare intently at her poor little PowerPoint presentation. This happened to me with Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, one of the most eminent figures in the field of contemporary communication studies.


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