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The article acknowledges that media plays a major role in determining the people behavior in expressing of opinion. The article states that evidence for Noelle-Neumann theory has not been in agreement with the theory itself due to the differences in public assessments of climate of opinion or rather the prevailing feelings of the people.
The article reviews a case of O.J Simpson trial which had aroused a great deal of inflated public attention. Two different groups; that is, Whites and the Blacks were divided on the guilt or innocence of Simpson. Majority of Whites believed in the culprit’s innocence. Climate of opinion will influence people’s freewill in expressing their sentiments in a public platform.
Public opinion in this context has been used to refer to interpersonal communication and other matters that are discussed in a public setting. Political communication has been used in the design of the study to look like journalists soliciting for information from the people in public situations (Neill, 2009).
Racial opinions in this instance, has been used to portray some element of agreement or interaction of the opinion among the people of same race as seen from the study. One would see other peoples’ opinion as being a threat to their own opinion especially if they are of a different race.
Lastly, spiral of silence has been termed to mean that people whose opinions agree with those of the majority group in a public opinion were willing to make known their sentiments than the marginalized groups.
Climate of opinion
Climate of is a social science concept that describes an occurrence that is important to policy makers and the general public, as well as mass communication theories (Salwen & Stacks, 2009). It refers to the perceived popularity of opinions. Climate of opinion is commonly used in media to express its consequence on both public opinion and popular opinion.
In addition to this, the participants in media tend to influence the respondent’s opinion since they are perceived to be more liberal than ordinary members of the society. The existing climate of opinion will be of much influence to respondent’s response and may even not be willing to partake in such public forums that require expression of opinions.
The facilitators will influence people in that respective group in making their opinion depending on climate of opinion. The inhibitors of spirals of silence will say whatever they think is irrespective of the climate of opinion.
Spiral of silence
Spiral of Silence is a theory that was created by Noelle-Neumann (1974). He used it to reflect how the opinion of the majority can become the opinion of all. In addition, he stated that “Public opinion is the dominant opinion which compels compliance of attitude and behavior in that it threatens the dissenting individual with isolation and the politician with loss of support” (Noelle-Neumann, 1974, p. 45).
Liu (2009) agrees that in the instance of spiral of silence, the individuals in minority groups will become more vulnerable and they will shy away from expressing their opinions. Rosseing (2009) in his paper argues that, spiral of silence is limited by a set of preconditions. An issue at hand which has a moral component that is, it arouses the people sentiments might push the minority group into spiral of silence.
Political communication studies the relationship between the media, voters and politicians. It includes use of political propaganda by the government to win voters. This concept can be used to show how media organizations can be sued to create a good profile of a certain political candidate so that they can win elections.
Public opinion is the “collective evaluation expressed by people on political issues, policies, institutions and individuals” (Hayes, Glynn, and Shanahan, 2005, p. 67). Media organizations are a key avenue upon which public opinion is shaped.
The media can be used to influence the public’s beliefs, attitudes and inclinations. Hayes, Glynn, and Shanahan (2005) argued that not all people will engage in self-censorship, which is tendency to show hesitation in expressing their opinions in public places even where major group disagrees with them.
Racial opinion is the creation of a viewpoint that is biased against a particular racial group. For example, the black in America can be portrayed as inferior or corrupt by the American media houses.
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Strengths and limitations of the article
Most of the issues discussed by the author are strongly corroborated by legitimate evidence, hence increasing their credence. The article argues that spiral of silence is limited by a set of precondition. An issue at hand which has a moral component that is, it arouses the people sentiments might push the minority group into spiral of silence.
He empathizes that it is important to measure the moral component. The study does not give much attention to other precondition like influence of the social media, extreme conflict of opinions. Rapid changes in opinion distributions make spirals of sense easily observable (Rosseing, 2009).
Hayes, A. F., Glynn, C. J., & Shanahan, J. (2005). Validating the Willingness to Self- Censor Scale: Individual Differences in the Effect of the Climate of Opinion on Opinion Expression. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 17 (4), 443-455.
Liu, X. (2011). Exploring the spiral of silence in the virtual world: Individuals willingness to express personal opinions in online versus offline setting. Journal of Media and Communication Studies, 3 (2), 45-57.
Neill, A. S. (2009). The Alternate channels: how social media is challenging the spiral of silence theory in GLBT communities of color. New York: SAGE.
Noelle-Neumann, E. (1974). The spiral of silence: public opinion, our social skin. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Rosseing, T. (2009). Paper for the WAPOR Conference on “Public Opinion and Survey Research in a Changing World. London: Mcgre.
Salwen, B. M., & Stacks, W. D. (2009). An integrated approach to communication theory and research. Web.