Date of Award
Master of Science
Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication
This study aims to test the two steps of the spiral of silence theory: (1) assessment of the climate of opinion and (2) willingness to speak out about controversial political issues with respect to young adults' political use of the social networking site, Facebook, to communicate with their close friends and broader circle of friends. Since the spiral of silence was initially proposed at time when traditional media dominance, this study illuminates the application of the theory on the emerging communicative technology.
The results show close friends were the most important group to assess the climate of opinion for both general political issues and the issue of same-sex marriage in particular. There are gender differences that women engaged in Facebook more frequently for maintaining relationships with friends whereas men reported more political use of Facebook. Women had higher use and perceived value of Facebook to communicate with both their close friends and broader circle of friends about the issue of same-sex marriage than men for the two steps of spiral of silence.
Results of the study contribute to understanding how spiral of silence theory might operate in an age of social media such as Facebook. Evidence also indicates that there are still gender differences in political communication.
Chen, Kuan-ju, "A test of the spiral of silence theory on young adults' use of social networking sites for political purposes" (2011). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 12214.