An Introduction to Public Opinion

An Introduction to Public Opinion

An Introduction to Public Opinion

An Introduction to Public Opinion

Excerpt

This volume is the outgrowth of a series of lectures constituting a part of a two weeks' course on public relations organized by the American Council on Public Relations and presented to groups of business men at Reed College, Portland, Oregon; Stanford University; and the University of Washington in Seattle, during the summer of 1939. They were also included in the short course offered by the Council in Milwaukee in February, 1940.

Public-relations problems are essentially public-opinion problems. Moreover, the academic student of public opinion soon discovers that those most realistically concerned with his field of study are men and women seeking to solve public-relations problems. Starting with the practical problems of public relations I have tried to show how a knowledge of public opinion will aid in their solution and what an understanding of public opinion involves.

The purpose of these lectures is twofold: (1) to present a theory of public opinion which will serve as a frame of reference for public officials, political leaders, business executives, labor leaders, and group leaders generally who are today at grips with public-relations problems; (2) to clarify the meaning of such terms as public relations, public opinion, public interest, and propaganda, and to appraise the role of certain institutions and practices in the public-opinion arena. Special attention is given to public-opinion polls, public-opinion research, current attempts to analyze propaganda, and the impact of foreign propaganda on the American scene. Some suggestions are offered for improving the functioning of public opinion in a democracy.

Limitations of the lecture platform precluded a detailed elaboration of the theses presented. Nevertheless, it may be of value to publish the papers substantially as they were delivered, even though the satisfaction that comes from meticulous refinement of statement is, to some extent, sacrificed. Definitions and philosophies are, by their very nature, personal matters. If Humpty Dumpty could make words . . .

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