ABSTRACT

T HERE are as many definitions of public opinion as there aredisciplinary points of view. Political scientists see public opinion interms of the distribution of power and the management of societies. Sociologists theorize about collective forces at work. This review will take a communication perspective to public opinion. It will center on research traditions that address the perception that public opinion exists and that this perception is gained by observing and communicating. If we accept as reality that perceptions of the reality of public opinion exist, then we may ask how people gain those perceptions and how they act upon them.