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I am confused about the this solution. It says that the author includes "East End working-class theaters" to illustrate that the magazines can sway public opinion.

Although the preceding sentence discusses this, how can we know that the working class had a favorable opinion of "East End theaters," thus confirming that their opinions were swayed? The passage never addresses the actual working-class's opinion.

The only possible explanation is that if this sentence was not supporting the idea that magazines could sway public opinion, then it would be a useless/irrelevant sentence. Is this enough justification to support this answer, or is there another explanation?

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They key is in the sentence:

The role of magazines of arbiters of nineteenth-century taste is seen in their depiction of the London theatre.

Magazines being arbiters here means that they are:

[Merriam-Webster]

a person or agency whose judgment or opinion is considered authoritative · arbiters of taste

In other words, the magazines are the authority on what public opinion should be. As the authority, they "determine" or "sway" public opinion.

While the interpretation on its own could easily be argued as not necessarily true (you could debate the premise), it's the most reasonable interpretation from among the five possible answers that are presented. (By the process of elimination, the other four answers are either completely unsupported by the passage or are are simply less reasonable.)

You're not supposed to necessarily agree with the one interpretation, but choose it as "better than" the others.

  • I don't really understand what you mean. The answer choice says that they are supporting that the magazines are the arbiters. We aren't taking for an immediate fact that the magazines are definitely arbiters. Without knowing what the working-class thought, the bolded statement doesn't support anything – Goldname Jul 4 '18 at 20:15
  • Right. The exercise is about reading comprehension and summarizing the passage. Based on that, the exercise does have you take for a fact that they are arbiters. (Because that's what it says.) You are supposed to determine which of the answers best fits the passage as given, not come up with your own interpretation. – Jason Bassford Jul 4 '18 at 20:26
  • Ok, assuming that they are indeed arbiters, I don't understand how the bolded sentence is meant to "illustrate a point." It's more like, giving an example of how they influenced public opinion rather than support the fact that they did influence public opinion – Goldname Jul 4 '18 at 20:45
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    @Goldname: Your last sentence is correct. It is an example of how they influenced public opinion. Replace "example" with its near-synonym "illustration" and the offered answer then matches nicely. – Ben Voigt Jul 4 '18 at 21:56
  • @BenVoigt Actually, my wording is incorrect. they are not "giving an example" at all, because we don't even know the opinions of the middle-class! So, they are basically saying half a statement, not providing an example and hence not supporting their argument – Goldname Jul 5 '18 at 1:14

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