THE SPRIRAL OF SILENCE AND PUBLIC OPINION ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
Moy, P., Domke, D., & Stamm, K. (2001). The spiral of silence and public opinion on affirmative action. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 78(spring 2001), 7.
This study, was carried out to test Nolle-Neumanns’ theory on the fear of individuals voicing their opinions in public. The study was based on affirmative action that is now being threatened by people that want it eliminated. The majority may speak out but rarely do the minority. Affirmative action was first created in order to give any race and gender equal opportunities. This fear to speak out is not baseless but it has in the past been hindered by competing moral claims, conflicting interests and extreme sensitivity to which views are socially acceptable and which ones not.THE SPRIRAL OF SILENCE AND PUBLIC OPINION ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
Fear of isolation theory presented by Noelle-Neumann gets challenged that it may produce different results in the ‘real’ world with ‘real’ groups and not with the laboratory results that founded this theory. In respect to reference groups’ ‘climates of opinion’ the study suggests that studying the ‘microclimates’ as well will present a different perspective. Primary groups are so influential that being kicked out of them will hurt more as opposed to society at large. In the home base, where people interact on a daily basis, not being able to fit in the local opinion worries people more than in society. The willingness to speak out is also influenced by other factors such as individual political interest, individual perception of what is right and what is wrong, media support of one’s opinion, all influence the willingness of a person to speak out. Education, age and income have also been seen as influencers of ones willingness to voice their opinion.THE SPRIRAL OF SILENCE AND PUBLIC OPINION ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
The study conducted by Moy et al resulted in the following findings. A controversial issue support or opposition is affected by age, gender, political affinity and level of education. There is a positive relationship between the media and the perceptions of the people. The greater the fear of an individual to speak out is indeed brought about by the fear of facing isolation from other; peers, family, community and society at large. People who feel that their immediate surrounding support their opinion will be more likely confident more than those that does not. The fear to speak out due to isolation was confirmed in this study but they also found something new, that being educated increased one’s chance of speaking out, no matter their prevailing climate of opinion. Media was found to be the biggest culprit in the spiral of silence. They also found out that peoples willingness to speak was controlled by the general public but that their immediate friends, family and community were their biggest determinants of weather to voice their opinion or not.
“The media provide people with the words and phrases they can use to defend a point of view.” Noelle-Neumann. This quotation generally explains how the media is a force on its own when it comes to determining whether people voice their opinions or not. People largely depend on the media to give them facts about the controversial issue and a deeper view as to why it requires to be debated. The opinion polls portrayed by the media do not help either because when individuals view them they perceive that as the view of the public when in reality it is only sampled. Less educated individuals viewing this polls will be less likely to voice their opinion because the polls tell them that it is their opinion is not the one supported by the general public, which is false.