No-One Cares What You Think (and there’s nothing you can do about it)

This is a blog about public opinion. More specifically, it’s about the way public opinion is routinely used, abused, and dismissed by those actors possessing a monopoly over the political and economic power within a society. Whether it is politicians using poll feedback to test the latest election slogan, media empires constructing news stories to attract audiences to advertising, or the entire industrial mass of capitalist production and its endless search for customers, modern mass social interaction is dominated by efforts not to understand the views of the man in the street, but to create them, to shift them, and to shape them according to the agenda of the people in control.

Think of an election campaign. The point is not to learn the views of voters, but to convince those same voters that the candidate’s position is their own. Politicians don’t care what you think, they care what you’ll vote for.

Think of a newspaper. The point is not to inform readers about the world, but to construct a ‘package’ of image and ‘content’ into which can be inserted paid advertising. Newspaper editors don’t care what you think, they care what will convince you to look at the ads that they sell.

Think of the marketing materials produced by a cosmetics manufacturer. The point is not to match supply and demand, but to create demand for an existing supply. Cosmetics manufacturers don’t care what you think, they care what you’ll buy.

The point of this blog is to point out examples of powerful actors using public opinion for their own benefit, and to seek to analyse how and why they’re doing it. Over the next few weeks I’ll lay out some of the theoretical background to this core idea, that no-one cares what you think, and moreover begin to explain why there’s nothing you can do about it.

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About jamesstrong

I'm a PhD Candidate in International Relations at the London School of Economics, writing a thesis on the public debate in Britain before the invasion of Iraq.
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