Government Speech and Public Opinion: Democracy by the Bootstraps

41 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2018

See all articles by Jacob H. Rowbottom

Jacob H. Rowbottom

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law

Date Written: August 1, 2016


This article considers the relationship between government speech and the idea that a democratic government should be responsive to public opinion. In particular, it considers the problems that can arise when state resources are used to influence public opinion. Such attempts to influence can potentially reverse the relationship between government and the people, which is central to democratic legitimacy. At the same time, government communications are an important tool in implementing policies. There is also a role for government officials to lead public opinion. The discussion provides a framework to analyze these issues and identify the types of communication that can challenge the democratic ideal of responsive government.

Keywords: goverment communications, propaganda, public opinion, freedom of speech

Suggested Citation

Rowbottom, Jacob H., Government Speech and Public Opinion: Democracy by the Bootstraps (August 1, 2016). Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol. 25, No. 1, 2017. Available at SSRN:

Jacob H. Rowbottom (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

St. Cross Building
St. Cross Road
Oxford, OX1 3UJ
United Kingdom

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics