Three Contexts of the Spiral of Silence Theory
As an exchange student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism, Elisabeth had discovered the method of public opinion polls developed by George Gallup. Being fascinated by it, she decided to change her dissertation topic to Amerikanische Massenbefragungen über Politik und Presse [American Mass Surveys on Politics and the Press] (Noelle, 1940). She had no signifi cant practical experience but based her knowledge on American public opinion research when she conducted her fi rst survey on behalf of the French military government. Its subject was the political attitudes of youth. A year later she and Erich Peter Neumann, whom she married in 1946, founded the Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach, which she regarded as her scientifi c laboratory. The Allensbach Institute’s projects were to be kept manageable and not be allowed to get too large. Friedrich Tennstädt was one of the fi rst employees and a major contributor to the development of the Allensbacher Werbeträger Analyse (AWA), measuring the use of newspapers, news magazines, and electronic media. The survey collected detailed data on the media usage of 20,000 people at a time. After the Social Democratic Party (SPD) did not accept the Institute’s off er to conduct public opinion polls on current issues in 1949, in 1950 the Institute entered into a contract with the conservative German government to research current public opinion (Noelle-Neumann 2006, p. 173). This contract has been renewed every year since. The German government reports were mostly written by her husband, Erich Peter Neumann, until his
death in 1973. He also founded the Jahrbuch der öff entlichen Meinung 1947-1955 [Yearbook of Public Opinion 1947-1955], which has continued to appear at irregular intervals since 1956, albeit with the title Allensbacher Jahrbuch der Demoskopie [Allensbach Yearbook of Public Opinion] since 1976.