Spiral of Silence: Communication and Public Opinion as Social Control
Charles T. Salmon Michigan State University
Carroll J. Glynn Cornell University
Conceiving public opinion as unwritten law, or as an informal mechanism of social control is hardly new; indeed, one scholar ( Noelle-Neumann, 1995) traced the notion back to antiquity and the writings of Pericles and the Old Testament. It can be found in the treatises of philosophers and scholars of many different eras and nations as well, including John Locke, James Bryce, Floyd Allport, Alexis de Tocqueville, Jacques Ellul, and others. For example, James Madison ( 1788/ 1961), writing in Federalist Paper No. 49, implicitly adopted this conceptualization:
The strength of opinion in each individual, and its practical influence on his conduct, depends much on the number which he supposes to have entertained the same opinion. The reason of man, like man himself, is timid and cautious when left alone, and acquires firmness and confidence in proportion to the number with which it is associated. (p. 340)
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Publication information: Book title: An Integrated Approach to Communication Theory and Research. Contributors: Michael B. Salwen - Editor, Don W. Stacks - Editor. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Place of publication: Mahwah, NJ. Publication year: 1996. Page number: 165.