is able to remain intact, and attention is diverted to a new social problem. The power to define the problem therefore is the power to ascribe blame, the power to divert blame, and the power to define the locus of social change-the individual or the system ( Salmon, 1989).
In general, the spiral-of-silence model can make some important contributions to our understanding of public opinion phenomena. The model may overstate the degree of "silencing" that is likely to occur in many public opinion situations, and it may underestimate the media's role in maintaining the status quo. As is the case for all depictions of social reality, this one is rooted in a particular worldview, a particular ideology. But the essence of the model -- that individuals' perceptions of their environment do have some bearing on their communication and behavior, and that the mass media play an important role in influencing these perceptions -- is incontestable. Further, the many ways in which the media portray a consonant ideology -- particularly that of individualism -- are subtle and veiled. By consistently structuring problems in certain ways and by accepting the inevitability of existing political and social institutions, the media contribute to the delimiting of human potential by failing to seek and legitimize alternatives for meaningful change. It is up to future generations of researchers to further elaborate on these ideas, to further our understanding of the intricacies among media influence, social pressures, and individual freedoms.