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Abstract

The theory of the Spiral of Silence (Noelle-Neumann, 1984), explained why the view of a minority is not presented when the majority view dominates the public sphere. For years the theory of the spiral of silence was used to describe the isolation of minority opinions when seeking help from traditional media, which play a significant role in increasing the isolation. The fear of isolation makes many people afraid of exchanging their views face-to-face with others. The main fear comes from identifying the people who hold a minority opinion. However, with the proliferation of social networks people have moved online to exchange their views, whether they hold a minority or a majority opinion, as long as their identities are concealed. Although women are the majority population in many Arab societies, their voices are still considered a minority view. In addition to the effects described in the spiral of silence, there are other obstacles to self-expression. Religion, culture, tradition, and education may have a negative effect, preventing women’s voice being made public. Social networks have helped to promote women’s voices while removing offline obstacles. This paper uses the theory of the spiral of silence in relation to women’s online political participation in Twitter, even though they may not be willing to share their opinions offline (face-to-face), to learn whether the theory is still useful as an account of online relationships. The results show that the spiral of silence does not explain the behavior of women, either face-to-face or online.

Note on the Author

Ali A Dashti, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor in the Mass Communications Department at Gulf University for Science and Technology. His research interest includes political communication, online journalism, women studies, social network and public relations. He is the author of “Sergeant over One Week” and “How 0.10 Can Change Your Life”.

Hamed H Al-Abdullah, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in Political Science Department at Kuwait University. He is an Assistant Dean for Research Training & Consultation at the College of Social Sciences. He is specialized in political thoughts, human rights and political ideologies.

Hasan A. Johar, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor and head of the Political Science Department at Kuwait University. He served as a Member of Parliament (Kuwait National Assembly) from 1996-2012. He is specialized in international relations, political economy and political Islam.

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