Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Changing entrenched attitudes

Yirmiahu wrote:

Recently, Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn mentioned that he was interesting in exploring "how to actually change entrenched attitudes which have no halachic basis." As it turns out I had recently been skimming a book from fifty or sixty years ago on Public Relations, called "Public Relations"* which addressed this issue (albeit without direct reference to ideas without halachic basis).

Public Opinion is not a mere collection of individual opinions. It has its own dynamic which should be taken into account if one hopes to be an influence. While we are interested in how these principles are applicable to a specific sociological group, we should bear in mind that they apply generally as well. Indeed as individuals these principles likely factor into our opinion making more than we would like to imagine, and almost certainly factor into how many who share our opinions reached their conclusion. Hopefully such a recognition will help us consider the role of these principles in Public Opinion without developing a spirit of condescension.

Initially we need to consider what we mean by "public", "A public is comprised of people who are engaged in a common enterprise with similar interests and are conscious of their mutual dependence" (page 26). Public Opinion is the position taken on a controversial issue by the public. In any given public there are members of various education, aptitude, and temperament. At times Public Opinion is driven by the higher, more reasoned opinions of the knowledgeable and educated. But even the knowledgeable and educated can be swayed by emotion or otherwise make poor judgments, and as a result direct Public Opinion, or allow it to be directed by those less equipped to make such decisions, in a less well thought out direction.

Now people display certain patterns of thought and behavior with respect to the "public" they identify with which influences how "Public Opinion" is developed: For the rest of the post click on this link

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