Normative Implications of the Spiral of Silence: Hearing the Other Side in the 21st Century
This book serves as testimony to the unusually generative nature of the spiral of silence theory, which has spawned huge amounts of scholarship focused on the social dimension of opinion formation. Our focus in this chapter will be on furthering development of the normative implications of opinion climates. We do this by comparing some of the central ideas in The Spiral of Silence (NoelleNeumann, 1993) to those in Hearing the Other Side (Mutz, 2006). For those unfamiliar with the ideas in both books, a brief overview is in order. Both Hearing the Other Side and The Spiral of Silence focus on the importance of social infl uence in conditioning political attitudes and behaviors. In The Spiral of Silence, emphasis is on how mass mediated forms of social infl uence operate to suppress opinion expression and thus silence minority viewpoints, or at least those views perceived to be in the minority. When people fi nd very little evidence of public support for their views, they become less likely to express those viewpoints, thus further encouraging silence among those of that viewpoint.