A fear of isolation and a rejection of a personal idea, and the consequent restriction of speech. Often, rather than express themselves, people withhold thoughts, fearing of rejection. The links between the spiral of silence and public opinion, must surely have condequences for the public sphere.
To the individual, their own thoughts may not have a strong value. The fear of isolating oneself, discussing something strange or radical or through committing an error defines what is and isn’t public opinion. On many issues, people will consider what position their views take, and in many cases people will further consider the reaction of others to previously expressed opinions. The less popular a thought, the less likely another is to accept it.
Further, the individual is beholden to the possibility of changes in public opinion. That is the less favourable an opinion is becoming, the more hesitant people will be in supporting that opinion.
Accordingly, these interactions project a spiral of silence that defines public opinion as that which can be voiced without fear of attack. Public opinion can be further described as the dominating opinion, which demands compliance of attitude and behaviour. The spiral of silence is a threat to the dissenting individual with isolation and the loss of political favour.
The much progress and development for humanity has been withheld from public debate by those fear of experiencing rejection. It is easy to conclude that the spiral of silence self-censors a majority from freely communicating.
Related TD123 Article
- The Spiral of Silence and the theory of public opinion. (http://takedown.net/story/2002/2/1/232959/3095) – Discussion
TakeDown.NET -> “Spiral-of-silence”