Social Influence: Modes and Modalities
Increased travelling and migration within and between regions of the world, and the multiplication of mass media of circulation in print and the digital space, have brought about radical changes and reshaped the nature of the modern public sphere. Contemporary public spheres are characterised by a plurality of views that seek expression and legitimacy in public approval. Individuals in modern societies, protected by freedom of speech, are entitled to hold views and opinions outside the dominant viewpoint, and to express them freely in the public domain. The modern public sphere is thus characterised by tensions of conflicting views and disagreements. Few places in the world, if any, remain Durkheimian in the sense that a dominant world view rules supreme as ‘collective representation’. Modern individuals are routinely confronted by others whose views differ radically from their own (Benhabib, 2002; Jovchelovitch, 2007). Conflicting views expressed in public create tension as they undermine consensus and imply that some ideas, possibly one’s own, may be incorrect. Communication is at the heart of this tension, that arises whenever individuals project and expose their ideas and opinions and others disagree, and the greater their distance, the greater the potential for conflict.
KeywordsAccommodation assimilation attitude belief compliance conformity conversion deviance imitation informational influence leadership majority minority normalisation normative influence norms obedience persuasion public sphere social influence soft power.
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