Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

Audience Opinion Poll and the Target Audience in the Audiovisual

Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

Audience Opinion Poll and the Target Audience in the Audiovisual

Article excerpt

Influencing public opinion, through mass media, to win someting. This is the desideratum of politics that, under the auspices of democracy, manipulates as much as it pleases. Here, however, we need to make some clarifications to understand how democracy instruments can be used against the masses, in a free society, with their consent and encouragement.

First, the concept of public opinion is a controversial one that involves several approaches. On the one hand, the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu says that the public opinion does not exist. The democratic formation of a public opinion is to be found at the center of the public space, but the massive practice of polls and the media have determined the crisis of the system of representativeness. At this point, the opinion poll has, in Bourdieu's view, the role of imposing the illusion that there is a public opinion resulting from summing up some individual opinions. On the other hand, French sociologist Dominique Wolton argues that the public opinion is the relatively faithful reflection of the various currents of opinion that cross the present society and the most democratic means of regulating the choice the citizen makes (WOLTON, 1997).

A brief history of the notion of public opinion shows that it has three states. The first state unrolls from the French Revolution to the second half of the nineteenth century and designates an opinion of the social elites in a new field, that of open political struggle and electoral competition. The public opinion was, at that time, the opinion of MPs, elected by the people, and was characterized by the fact that it was not the opinion of ordinary citizens.

Such a vision will be gradually changed. Firstly, there appears the universal male vote by which the people get involved directly in the political game and not just the elites, which happens in the second half of the 19th century. At the same time, there is a push from the popular media, which will be the foundation for the emergence of a powerful character that will play an important role in defining the second state of public opinion. "This new political character is the journalist who, through his articles and editorials, contributes to imposing themes of discussion and creating" public opinion "by simply trying to define what this should be," states Patrick Champagne, a member of the European Center of Sociological Studies in Paris (CHAMPAGNE, 2002).

The development of the radio in the first half of the 20th century will go in the same direction, further strengthening the power of building up the popular media-media opinion.

From the second half of the twentieth century we talk about the third state of public opinion, the complex and uncertain product, of the struggle between three distinguished actors: the politician, the journalist and the voter.

With the development of a true survey industry, the notion of public opinion will experience a new transformation. The sounding institutes, which claim only to measure the public opinion, actually impose their conception on public opinion, a conception demanded by the political field.

Media communication belongs to a global situation in which we have a technological support (scripto-visual for press, audio for radio and audio-visual for television) placed on a secondary broadcasting channel between two instances of broadcasting and receiving. There is a meeting point for the broadcasting-production and reception-interpretation processes on which the social significance is built.

Patrick Charaudeau, Professor of the Science of Language at the XIII University of Paris, draws the attention in the volume Les medias et ¡'information: ¡'impossible transparence du discours on the media means of communication and claims that they are not an instance power. Even though we can not deny that the media is not alien to the various games of social power, it can not be the supreme power because the power never depends on one individual, but in the context, the instance in which the individual manifests himself gives him power (CHARAUDEAU, 2005). …

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