The Spiral of Silence Theory and its Assumptions

The Spiral of Silence is a theory of mass communication . This spiral of silence theory is commonly referred to as the ‘Spiral of Silence Theory’ or ‘ Spiral of Silence Theory . In language, the theory of the spiral of silence is taken from the word ‘Spiral’ which means a circle and ‘Silence’ which means silence. In fact, this theory is one of the theories of political communication .

In communication science, the theory of silence is one of the mass communication theories in which someone has opinions on various issues but there are doubts and fears to give their opinion because they feel isolated, so that the opinion is not open or closed.

With the isolation of the opinion of each individual, the person tries to find support in favor of that opinion. This causes the person to become the majority, who initially is only a minority or are isolated from their opinions. Most people seek support for their opinion through the mass media or approach people who are influential in their society such as a public figure or public figure .

However, if the opinion is not yet supported, then the person will communicate using the Spiral of silence in which he hides his opinion and inevitably accepts the majority opinion. (Also read: Organizational Communication Patterns )

History of the Theory of Silence

The theory of the spiral of joy has been developed by Elisabeth Noelle Neumann (1973, 1980) who was a Nazi German sociologist, political expert, and journalist who hated Jews and supported Hitler. In his opinion, Neumman explained that the spiral of silence theory is an attempt to explain the formed public opinion and this theory only focuses on public opinion alone.

That many of the population adjust their behavior to the direction of this theory of media has been stated as an important basis in studying the human condition (Neumman, 1993).

This theory was obtained and inspired when he was in the Nazi environment at that time, where many people felt isolated from their opinions when they wanted to express their opinions. So it is not wrong if many people who experience this Spiral of Silence seek support through the mass media. (Also read: Communication Barriers )

This happens because the mass media is the mouthpiece of the public at large and in general. In addition, the media are a mostly left-sided means of communication.

Two Assumptions about Opinions

In the silent spiral theory, it does not always experience minority, the theory can occur in the majority when it gets support from the media in which the media accentuates certain points of view with the suitability of opinions on a topic. However, the media do not carelessly support an opinion, they see that opinion is worthy of being supported or not. ( Introduction to Communication Studies )

This theory actually still refers to the discipline of sociopsychology because of the social situation and human psychological factors. This is very attractive to the community because there is social equity. Because basically, a person in general always avoids adversity and isolation in society.

This spiral of silence theory essentially depends on the opinion one thinks and expects of it. In this theory, there are only two assumptions, namely opinions that are accepted or opinions that are not accepted by the public. And the second assumption is to adjust to the existing perceptions in an opinion.

Also read:

  • communication theory according to experts
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Political Communication

Saverin and Tankard (2001) have argued that humans are considered to have a quasi-statistical sense which is used to determine which opinions and ways of behavior their environment approves or disapproves of, as well as which opinions and forms of behavior gain or lose power. .

Opinions do not have to be conveyed verbally, either by means of signs by sticking stickers in various places or posting pamphlets about our opinion through a work. Because there are various ways of expressing opinions, and that is an example of how to convey opinions through the spiral of silence theory.

As said by Littlejohn (1996), “We dare to do that because we believe that other people can accept our opinion.”

Read also: Social Communication

Opinion and Society

In dealing with various issues that are considered controversial or breakers of harmony, an impression will be formed about this opinion. The community tries to determine whether the opinion is majority or not, and is in line with them or not.

If the majority opinion does not work according to society, then the community prefers to remain silent and be in the minority. In fact, the longer the community is silent, the more points of view are kicked, and the longer they will be silent.

In essence, this spiral of silence arises because of the exclusion of minorities. Littlejohn (1996) states that Neumann says “going with the flow is relatively fun, but if possible, because you are not willing to accept what appears to be a generally accepted opinion, at least you can keep quiet, so that others can accept you.”

Neumman has attempted to formulate the relationship between the mass media and the formation of public opinion that occurs. Even now, many students use this theory in researching the introduction of mass communication . And many conclude that this minority group needs to hide its opinion from the majority group.

People of course don’t want to feel isolated or isolated in a group, they want to hang out with others. They do not want to be alone even though they still have high beliefs.

Thus, the community will study the various views of the community in their environment, looking for which opinions are popular in that environment.

Also read:  Organizational Communication Patterns  –  Gender Communication

However, due to time constraints, most people accept opinions that are not supported by the mass media so they feel isolated when they want to explore their opinions in public. Even though the minority opinion will eventually become the majority opinion.


by Abdullah Sam
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