Spiral of silence theory – conclusion

Spiral of silence theory suggests that out of fear of isolation from social systems, the minority may avoid speaking out their opinion when it is in conflict with the majority’s, eventually resulting into a sequence that entrenches and propagates the majority opinion as the conventional opinion. This paper reviews empirical assays of this theory to assess its validity in differing concepts. From the reviewed literature, mixed results have been elicited. Whereas some support for the spiral of silence theory arises from studies such as those assessing affirmative actions, other studies have not found such theory to predict expression of opinion e.g. with regard to the influence of the media. Yet other studies have identified moderating factors such as culture that render the theory valid or in-valid in various contexts. However, as noted in a different study, the lack of support for the theory may lie in methodological challenges such as equating measures of “speaking out” to those of  “not speaking out”, the later being what the spiral of silence theory concerns itself with.

References

Donsbach, W. & Traugott, M. W. (Eds.). (2008). The SAGE handbook of public opinion research. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Huang, H. (2005). A cross-cultural test of the spiral of silence. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 17(3), 324-345. doi: 10.1093/ijpor/edh065

Moreno-Riano, G. (2002). Experimental implications for the spiral of silence. The Social Science Journal, 39(1), 65-81. doi:10.1016/S0362-3319(01)00174-4

Moy, P., Domke, D. & Stamm, K. (2001). The spiral of silence and public opinion on affirmative action. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 78(1), 7-25.

Neuwirth, K., Frederick, E. & Mayo, C. (2007). The spiral of silence and fear of isolation. Journal of Communication, 57(3), 450-468. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.2007.00352.x

Perry, S. D. & Gonzenbach, W. J. (2000). Inhibiting speech through exemplar distribution: can we predict a spiral of silence? Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 44(2), 268-281.

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