Will public opinion kill health care reform in the US? Naturally, I don't know the answer to that question. What is interesting is how a reform process that appeared close to conclusion can wobble mightily upon the apparent signaling of public displeasure. If reinforces once again the centrality of politics - and of public opinion- to processes of reform. What matters now, as the leaders of US government grapple with how to conclude or abandon the reform effort, is to reflect on some of the lessons coming out of the process at this point that might be applicable to reform processes generally. The following seem fairly clear:
When we think of urban expansion in the 21st century, we often think of ‘sprawl’, a term that calls to mind low-density, car-oriented suburban growth, perhaps made up of single-family homes. Past studies have suggested that historically, cities around the world are becoming less dense as they grow, which has prompted worries about the environmental impacts of excess land consumption and automobile dependency. A widely cited rule of thumb is that as the population of a city doubles, its built area triples. But our new study on urban expansion in East Asia has yielded some surprising findings that are making us rethink this assumption of declining urban densities everywhere.
- South Asia
- Middle East and North Africa
- Latin America & Caribbean
- Europe and Central Asia
- East Asia and Pacific
- Urban Development
- Social Development
- Public Sector and Governance
- Private Sector Development
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Financial Sector
- Culture and Development
- Communities and Human Settlements
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Public Opinion
- Capacity Development
بلغ الصراع السوري مستوى مخيفا بتحوله إلى أكبر أزمة نزوح يشهدها العالم منذ الحرب العالمية الثانية، حيث غادر أكثر من نصف السكان منازلهم منذ عام 2011- وهي إحصائية مذهلة بشكل خاص.
تثير الأزمة السورية في أذهان الكثير منا صور أسر اللاجئين وهم يُمنعون من عبور الحدود الأوروبية، فضلا عن مشاهد مخيمات الإغاثة الإنسانية المترامية. إلا أن غالبية الفارين من العنف ظلوا بالمدن داخل سوريا وفي البلدان المجاورة أملا في السلامة والحصول على خدمات ووظائف أفضل.
- ولا يقتصر هذا على سوريا، لكنه حقيقة واقعة في العديد من البلدان المتأثرة بالصراع في الشرق الأوسط وما وراءه.
أزمة النزوح القسري في الشرق الأوسط هي أيضا أزمة مدن
على النقيض مما حدث في المرات السابقة، تهيمن طبيعة المدن على أزمات النزوح الحالية. في جميع أنحاء الشرق الأوسط- لاسيما سوريا والعراق والأردن ولبنان- أعاد التدفق المفاجئ للأعداد الضخمة من البشر تعريف الأثر المدني في المدن بعد أن ألقى بضغوط هائلة على البنية التحتية والخدمات والإسكان والفرص الاقتصادية على المستوى المحلي.
As many readers will know, CommGAP has developed a couple of training courses. We now run these courses in partnership with the World Bank Institute. A few years ago, we began to commission technical briefs on various aspects of communication and governance for use in the training courses. They are quick, hopefully accessible introductions to various key topics in communication, especially political communication. Each brief was written by an expert in the field although we have not attached the names of the writers, these being our corporate products. We have decided to share these briefs more broadly. Please feel free use them as appropriate. We would appreciate comments on them as well.
"The material for opinion research - all sorts of opinions held by all sorts of population groups - is not already constituted as public opinion simply by becoming the object of politically relevant considerations, decisions, and measures. The feedback of group opinions...cannot close the gap between public opinion as a fiction of constitutional law and the social-psychological decomposition of its concept. A concept of public opinion that is historically meaningful, that normatively meets the requirements of the constitution of a social-welfare state, and that is theoretically clear and empirically identifiable can be grounded only in the structural transformation of the public sphere itself and in the dimensions of its development."
-- Jürgen Habermas (1969, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, p. 244)
Imagine that you are an old lady from a poor household in a town in the outskirts of Chennai city, India. All you have wanted desperately for the last year and a half is to get a title in your name for the land you own, called patta. You need this land title to serve as a collateral for a bank loan you have been hoping to borrow to finance your granddaughter’s college education. But there has been a problem: the Revenue Department official responsible for giving out the patta has been asking you to pay a little fee for this service. That’s right, a bribe. But you are poor (you are officially assessed to be below the poverty line) and you do not have the money he wants. And the most absurd part about the scenario you find yourself in is that this is a public service that should be rendered to you free of charge in the first place. What would you do? You might conclude, as you have done for the last 1-1/2 years, that there isn’t much you can do…but wait, you just heard about a local NGO by the name of 5th Pillar and it just happened to give you a powerful ally: a zero rupee note.
The holy trinity of media effects research is "agenda setting - priming - framing." We've used all of these terms at some point in this blog. Since they are central to all kinds of communication work - and policy work, to quite some extent - we'll introduce all three a little more thoroughly, starting with agenda setting.
Agenda setting means the ability of the mass media to bring issues to the attention of the public and, related, of politicians. The basic claim is that as the media devote more attention to an issue, the public perceives the issue as important. When the media take up a specific topic - such as climate change, or manager bonuses - they make us think about it. The theory was introduced in 1972 by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw in their seminal study of the role of the media in the 1968 Presidential campaign in the US ("The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media").
"Opinion, as we define it, is a momentary, more or less logical cluster of judgments which, responding to current problems, is reproduced many times over in people of the same country, at the same time, in the same society."
Gabriel Tarde (1890)
In my own work and in my own studies, I think about public opinion as a critical force in politics and, therefore, in governance. Readers of this blog know that. But what we see working in the crisis around the personal life of the golfer, Tiger Woods, is an older, ever-present sense of how public opinion works; yet it is working in a new, globalized media environment, around an iconic sporting superstar.
"Opinion of the public is clearly a modern phenomenon: its origin and development are connected with the spirit of the Enlightenment, which, in a reciprocal influence with the development of natural sciences but also historical political thought in parallel with the present state and civil society on which it is founded in a permanent struggle with once ruling but now weaker and weaker religious-theological mental world, up till now has never been fully materialized and, under the influence of deeply moving events, experiences ever new blows that hamper and sometimes destructively influence public opinion formation."
Ferdinand Tönnies, 1928