Public opinion may be defined as the opinion of people in general held on questions of public interest. It should, however, be noted that for the opinion of the majority is not enough and unanimity is not required. Public opinion is not necessarily the opinion of majority of the population. If the majority is furthering its own interests at the cost of the minority, its opinion cannot be called true public opinion.

To become public opinion the majority opinion should be such that even the minority, may be prepared to accept it though not share it fully. Public opinion does not denote the unanimity of the people. Such unanimity is never possible.

Hence we conclude with Lowell that public opinion is the opinion held by the majority and passively acquiesced in by the minority. Majority opinion does not become public opinion if the minority is engaged in an active opposition of the majority views.

Again public opinion does not mean the opinion held by a particular locality, e.g., a village or a city. In this case, it would be called local opinion or city opinion.


Finally an opinion which is prejudicial to the interests and welfare of all the peoples which aims at advancing the partly system interests of one class at the cost of other is no public opinion in the real sense. There are two main features of public opinion.

In the first place, it should be held by the general body of the people. In the second place, it should be inspired by high ideals of common good. In other words, “public opinion is the opinion of right-minded citizens if it succeeds in winning the support and acceptance of a general body of citizens.”

In modern democratic age public opinion has assumed great importance. Democracy is, in fact, govern­ment by opinion. Governments arc made and unmade by it. All political parties appear to be engaged in a life and death struggle to keep public opinion in their favour.

A slight change in public opinion may prove to be detrimental to the cause of one political party or another. Not only docs public opinion play a useful role in national sphere, but it has also acquired world-wide importance. International peace and security de­pend upon world public opinion.


The two power blocks in world politics i.e., the American and Russian, arc striving hard to win over world public opinion. None can afford to ignore it. A slight drift in Indian public opinion may prove to be a matter of great concern to America or Russia. Governments have to adjust their policies to public opinion in their favour. No Government can make laws opposed to public opinion, how­soever good those laws may be.