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Coming to Public Judgment: Making Democracy…

Coming to Public Judgment: Making Democracy Work in a Complex World (The…

by Daniel Yankelovich

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I thought this was a really perceptive book for the first 100 pages or so, as the author analyzed the nature of public opinion. He distinguishes unreflective and fickle "mass opinion" from the more elaborate and stable "public judgment" he hopes to promote. He also emphasizes that public judgment needs to be recognized as knowledge different from, but not inferior to, expert knowledge. All of this was quite interesting.

But in the second half this book loses much of its originality. The author uses social psychological concepts to explain how public opinion develops, ending up with a quite meagre and nondescript analysis. Towards the end there are some strange chapters on the philosophy of knowledge which really contributes nothing to any preceding argument. I think that the author should have kept his writing better focused by discarding secondary material and that the book should have been much shorter.
  thcson | Jun 8, 2013 |
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