I'm looking for a word that describes the act of prioritizing the wishes of a majority of some community over the wishes of a minority.

Before, I would use the word chauvinism for this purpose, but apparently the word chiefly refers to exaggerated or even bigoted patriotism or sexism. It also carries a strongly negative connotation, whereas I'm trying to put my finger on a milder term.

The phrase peer pressure doesn't hit the nail on the head either, as it implies that a person is bullied into doing something that many of his peers want him to do so that he would fit in with them. But what if his peers have no intention of forcing him to follow their example, and it's a governing body of some kind that merely ignores his unique request in favor of a more popular request?

I also don't feel that the word democracy would fit, for the opposite reasons: it carries a strongly positive connotation, as a democratic decision implies that it is a decision that everybody wants or can agree with. But what word would imply that a certain decision is something that many people want and can benefit from, but would ignore or hurt a select few?

Examples of what I mean: A local government decides to stop funding their town's art gallery due to low attendance rates, and re-allocates the money to a popular sports club instead. This would be discriminatory against art-lovers, however few they may be.

Or, the student council of the Computer Science faculty is trying to convince professors to focus more on web applications because most of the students that will graduate want jobs in web development. However, this would be of no value to the very small minority of students that want to work in embedded systems, and the student council ignores these students' request for a course in programming micro-controllers.

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    Perhaps some form of "populism"?
    – Řídící
    Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 20:11
  • I disagree that democracy is wrong. That actually is the definition: " : government by the people especially : rule of the majority." Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 20:20
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    @ChrisW. In that case: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyranny_of_the_majority
    – Řídící
    Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 20:22
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    I would say popularist, except that is apparently defined (in British) as "designed for the general public; non-specialist; non-intellectual." Therefore, I submit/suggest that you coin the term "majorist", as it does not have an official "definition" yet.
    – Ron Kyle
    Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 20:34
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    This isn't a single word, but in practice, at least in the US, people would use "popularity contest." Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 22:12

1 Answer 1


Majoritarianism was the word I was looking for, or Majority Rule: when a governing body places the priorities of the majority of some organization (or of the populace) over those of a minority.

Argumentum ad populum (or populism), or Tyranny of the Majority (as well as Mob Rule or Ochlocracy) could be potential reasons or results of Majoritarianism. However, Majoritarianism has the potential to be good or (unintentionally) bad, which is the exact kind of mild connotation that I needed.

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    Aaaaugh! As much as I want to fight it, I have to grudgingly accept that "Majoritarianism" would be the proper term for it, based on the word Majority. At first I was like, "The word isn't "majoritary", it's "majority", so "majorism" would be correct!" but that's really just not the case. :)
    – Ron Kyle
    Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 20:58
  • @RonKyle I wish it was! Calling somebody out for being a "Majorist" while in a friendly argument is definitely handier than calling them a Majoritarianist. I'd probably stutter and say "Major Aryanist" by mistake.
    – Chris W.
    Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 21:46

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