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Historical Development of Public Opinion
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 55, No. 4 (Jan., 1950), pp. 376-388
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2772299
Page Count: 13
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Public opinion, defined for purposes of this historical review as free and public communications from citizen to their government on matters of concern to the nation, is a phenomenon of middle-class civilization. Its attainment of political significance was accompanied and facilitated by certain changes in the economic and convivial institutions of society and by shifts in social stratification. In its early phase public opinion was preoccupied with domestic affairs, but during the French Revolutionary wars and after the Congress of Vienna the utilization of public opinion in international affairs, became generally respectable among statesmen. Effective government by public opinion in the field of foreign affairs today is jeopardized by various specified characteristics of modern democratic civilization.
American Journal of Sociology © 1950 The University of Chicago Press