2019 年 2 巻 p. 44-56
In today's democratic society, public opinion is recognized as an "object of worship." Political elites such as politicians and bureaucrats want to grasp the trends of public opinion, and will sometimes try to control it. Meanwhile, the (mass) media conducts public opinion polls, interprets them, and reports both their results and interpretation. The mass media has become an influential actor in the political process.
In this paper, I will examine the concept of public opinion from a constructionist perspective. I present the view that public opinion is constructed by public opinion polls and their reports. These perspectives may not be new, but I would like to ask whether mass media can construct public opinion exclusively in the modern media environment.
Based on this question, we will analyze the public opinion reports on the 48th House of Representatives election in 2017. The Asahi Shimbun and other mass media outlets questioned the election’s legitimacy; they questioned whether the election results should be taken as public opinion and they presented "real public opinion" through their own opinion polls and critically commented on the election results.
However, these newspaper’ activities were criticized on the Internet. From a constructionist perspective, opinion has often been criticized as being constructed exclusively and predominantly by mass media. However, the opposite is evident in this case. Should we not consider that constructing public opinion will be increasingly difficult in the coming years?