Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann, a German political scientist (1916-2010) developed a model to explain people’s silence when they believe their view is in the minority. For example, the Jews became silent during Hitler’s rise to power in fear of isolation and separation from what they viewed as the majority opinion of their fellow German citizens.
The theory is that one view dominates the public scene. Other views disappear from public awareness as those who perceive they are a minority become silent. This process is called “Spiral of Silence.”
We’ve seen it when educators tried to make lemonade out of lemons in the early days of standardized test domination and NCLB. We saw it again when common core standards and accountability and rigor and now grit are introduced. It may also explain how the trend to speak against over-testing and corporate reform is growing as people perceive they will have a large enough group to join. This leads to a conclusion that it is crucial for people to:
- talk to each other so they know authentic opinions without assuming they are in a minority
- stay informed of actions going on beyond the walls of their buildings and their district central office building
- consider multiple venues (electronic, in person, etc) to safely express an opinion
When people don’t speak out, reasons may include*
1. They may feel unsupported by the other employees.
2. “Fear of isolation” like transfer
3. “Fear of Rejection” By rejecting their personal opinion from the public will help to avoid fight.
4. They may try to save their job by suppressing or avoid personal statement in public.
They frame work based on few assumptions:
1. Spiral of silence theory describe as a dynamic process, the predication about public opinion in mass media which gives more coverage for the majorities in the society and gives very less coverage for minorities.
2. In 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. It’s called “fear of Isolation”.
3. Being the part of Minority. People loss their confidence and silent or mute to express their views because of the fear of isolation or they feel alone or unsupported.
4. Sometimes the minorities withdraw their expressed opinion from public debates to secure themselves from the majority.
5. Maximum numbers get more vocal space in the society and lesser number become less vocal space or become silent.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
1. Spiral of Silence theory has both micro level and macro level explanatory process.
2. It works well during the public campaign, Senate and Parliament.
3. Spiral of silence theory – which helps to raise question about considering the role and responsibility of media in the society.
4. The theory which is not considering the other explanation of silencing. In some cases the person may feel the majority’s ideas or opinion is much better than his own view.
5. It portrait overly negative view of media influence the average people.