The commercial meets the aesthetic meets the political

William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
Elements of Style, 3rd edition (1988)
People vs Public

The people is a political term, not to be confused with the public. From the people comes political support or opposition; from the public comes artistic appreciation or commercial patronage.

When public turns to people… watch out.

Notice how the parallelism fails on a semantic basis. First the pair of alternatives: support or opposition (conjoined by a disjunctive “or”). Then, appreciation or patronage. The structure of alternatives is succeeded by a set of neighbouring terms. Incommensurability is baked in.

In essence, this formation intimates there can be publics (members of a set) but only one people (one source of contrasting positions). And publics as perhaps distinguished from the public are political: sourcing Cary R. Covington; James M. Lindsay; Eric R.A.N. Smith; Peverill Squire (2008), Dynamics of Democracy 5th edition.

But the singular “public” was political before the 3rd edition of Elements. We find:

John Dewey defined (Dewey 1927) public as a group of people who, in facing a similar problem, recognize it and organize themselves to address it. Dewey’s definition of a public is thus situational: people organized about a situation. Built upon this situational definition of a public is the situational theory of publics by James E. Grunig (Grunig 1983), which talks of nonpublics (who have no problem), latent publics (who have a problem), aware publics (who recognize that they have a problem), and active publics (who do something about their problem).

And neither public nor people are a readership.

And so for day 2534

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