Spiral of Silence

Topics: John McCain, Mass media, Barack Obama Pages: 5 (1520 words) Published: October 22, 2012
Name: Edmund Marcio Lugao
Diploma in Mass Communication
Subject: Communication Theory


I do not like V-neck but I am a Gay and what say you? I do not use handbags similar to those used by women and what say you? “Gay men have muscular bodies and like to show off by wearing V-neck and sleeveless clothes. They prefer tight and light coloured clothing. They like to carry big handbags similar to those used by women and so on.” In a seminar in Penang on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012, Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi said not many people understood or knew the early "symptoms" of homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender inclinations to prevent its spread. The Malaysian Government Education Minister has endorsed a list of the identifiable gay and lesbian guideline for the schools and parents to prevent the spread of what it perceives as a phenomenon among teenagers, especially students. In that seminar, the majority of the audience are teachers. In that situation, are them practicing the Spiral of Silence?


We will always choose to remain silence if someone evaluate their views fall in the minority. According to Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann (1916 – 2010) (Appendix I) “Spiral of Silence” been introduced as an attempt to explain in part how public opinion is formed. She wondered why the Germans supported wrong political positions that led to national defeat, humiliation and ruin in the 1930s-1940s. The description of Spiral of Silence is audience will be unwilling to publicly express their opinion if they believe they are in the minority. They will also be more vocal if they believe they are a part of the majority. Thus, the more marginalized you become, the less you speak and so spiral into a fully marginal position. This works because we fear social rejection. and that when a person appears to be rejected, others will back away from them, fearing being rejected because they associate with the rejected person. It also makes marginalization a powerful way of eliminating political and social competition. Public opinion is the "attitudes or behaviors one must express in public if one is not to isolate oneself, in areas of controversy or change; public opinions are those attitudes one can express without running the danger of isolating oneself."

According to Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, one view dominated the public scene and others disappeared from the public awareness as it adherents became silent. In other words, the people fear of separation or isolation those around them, they tend to keep their attitudes to themselves when they think they are in the minority. (Appendix II) Example, in a company, the managing director decides to increase their working hour from 8am to 10pm and send e-mail to all employees. Majority of them accept this time changes and few employees are not satisfied with his decision but they cannot or ready to express their through publicly. That might have few possibility which are “Fear of isolation” like transfer. They may feel unsupported by the other employees, “Fear of Rejection” By rejecting their personal opinion from the public will help to avoid fight or they may try to save their job by suppressing or avoid personal statement in public.

Spiral of silence theory describe as a dynamic process. The prediction about public opinion in mass media which gives more coverage for the majorities in the society and gives very less coverage for minorities. In this reality world, this social environment, people have fear of rejection to express their opinion or views and they known well what behaviors will make a better likelihood. We called this as “fear of Isolation”. Example, When Barack Obama’s (Obama) pastor of twenty years, Rev. Jeremiah Wright conducted radical sermons that caused much public outrage, Obama had no choice but to concur with the public. It can be said that Obama was caught in the spiral of silence where if he had supported his pastor’s comments in any way,...

References: 2) The Graduand Google Blog. Spot (©2008)
3) Spiral of Silence Theory. Changing Minds.org (©2012)
4) Noelle-Neumann, E. (©1984). The Spiral of Silence. University of Chicago, Chicago
5) Noelle-Neumann, E. (©1984). A First Look at Communication Theory - Spiral of Silence 7th
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