What is Formation of Public Opinion?

There is no definite and automatic process for the formation of public opinion. Whenever an issue of public concern emerges, various sections of society to express their views. In the process some views receive larger attention and emerge as public opinion. There are informal and formal processes that mould public opinion.

Political Socialisation:

Political Socialisation is the basic process through which every individual is oriented with respect to political issues. A human being lives and grows in family, neighbourhood, friends, the locality and the region. The orientation of attitudes, beliefs and values towards the political system acquire shape in association of their groups. The most influential in personality formation and character building are the family and the peer group. They provide the basic mould in influencing the ideas and opinions of the individual. The orientation of individuals through this process determines their views and reactions towards political issues.


The print media includes newspaper, periodicals, pamphlets, journals, leaflets etc. Press or print media supplies the news regarding all political and social happenings in the world. It throws a flood of light on current issues. In fact press is regarded as the watchdog of democracy by carrying the voice of the public to the government. People express their criticism or support in the form of articles, or comments through press. Hence, make the government responsible and answerable.In fact, government also propagates its policies and programmes through media. It tries to highlight its achievements to make public opinion in its favour.

Radio and Television:

Electronic media i.e radio and television act as a mirror of social life. Print media influences only the educated. The electronic media plays an important part in collecting the information and moulding the thoughts of the uneducated masses. The audio-visual media is used as a powerful means for bringing about social transformation and setting up a new social order free from social evils. It is used to educate the masses on certain Sensitive issues like casteism, communalism violence etc. Through radio and television masses communicate their feelings and opinions towards various government policies and programmes.


Cinema has been the traditional medium of entertainment and awareness. The cinema caters to the artistic and intellectual needs of the people. It cultivates new ideas and norms in the society on political and social problems. Feature films and documentary films have their natural impact on the thinking of the people. This audio visual method can even influence the illiterates.

Public Meetings:

Public meetings or platforms are effective means of moulding public opinion for different social, cultural, intellectual and political activities. They address the public issues and are able to gather huge crowd through lectures, seminars, symposia, workshops and conferences. They try to establish personal and emotional bond with the public and motivate them towards positive and healthy steps.

Political parties and their activities:

Political parties formulate and organize public opinion. They are called mobilisers of opinion. Political parties not only make the people aware of various public issues. Their purpose is to make the people politically conscious to think about public problems. Political parties publish journals, pamphlets, leaflets, manifestoes, posters etc. to mould the public opinion in their favour.

Opinion Polls:

Opinion polls serve to indicate public opinion at the time of their being taken. They are a very effective way of gathering information about public attitude and opinion on various political, social, cultural, economical etc. matters. They are normally conducted by professional agencies selecting representative samples of population. Of late they are becoming a very useful and popular method to understand and analyse public opinion. There have been instances when these opinion polls have not been able to analyse the situation correctly and the results or predictions have been falsified. But they surely have significant influence on public opinion.

Educational Institutions:

They include schools, colleges, literary clubs, study circles, universities and libraries etc. They can mould public opinion to a great extent. The adolescents get easily swayed by the opinions of others. Therefore the right kind of training is very important for this age group. Eminent leaders, scholars and educationists help in moulding their leadership qualities and help in creating public opinion through Debates, Talks, Seminars etc. Various co-curricular activities like Drama, Symposium, Painting/Slogan writing competition etc. also prove very effective in sensitizing the students on important national and international issues.

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There are certain limitations on the use of public opinion. It is believed that the public takes an interest in local and national affairs. The public is reasonably well informed. The public thinks, with reason and logic and arrives at the rational conclusion. The opinion of the public is expressed through the elections/polls. Public opinion always keeps the government on its toes and the alert government makes the laws based on social and moral principles expressed by it. Public opinion is the voice of interested spectators of action.

Public opinion reflects the plurality and diversity of opinions. Sometimes it is taken very casually. It is more a matter of interpretation. Fault does not lie with the opinion but with the interpretation. At times, sample may also not be appropriate. In modern mass societies people read, listen and see so much that it is not always easy for them to sift facts from fiction. Hence, it poses a great challenge to people to make intelligent discrimination of news and views. However, the fact remains that public opinion is a very effective means of communication between the government and the citizens.