How Ukrainian society got into "spiral of silence"?

Author : Olexandr Fomin

Source : 112 Ukraine

The objectivity of Ukrainian surveys is highly doubtful for political experts
20:37, 18 September 2018

112 Agency

Nowadays various kinds of public opinion polls are popular both in the Internet and on television. Journalists ask ordinary Ukrainians their opinion on different topic: from the utility tariffs to the plan of the country's exit from the crisis.

Some YouTube channels, by the way, became popular with these formats. Indeed, technologically everything is simple: take a camera (you can take even phone), a good mood and find some people who want to be involved.

Analyzing number of views of such videos indicates that they are very popular. After all, the viewer believes that this is an objective picture of the surrounding world.

Also captivating is the fact that some authors use one-shot shooting (lack of editing), stating that this completely excludes the manipulation of public opinion, and therefore they show that same vox populi.

Voice of the people?

At the same time, for experts (political scientists or psychologists), the objectivity of these surveys is highly doubtful. Especially in our society, where from time immemorial we pay attention to what others say or think.

And if we take into account the intensity of political passions in Ukraine, the situation becomes very, very unattractive.

In political science and mass communications there is such a "spiral of silence." This is the concept proposed by the German political scientist Elizabeth Noel-Neumann. She argues that a person is less likely to express his opinion on a topic if he feels that he is in a minority, because he is afraid of retribution or isolation (ignoring).

In simple words, the person does not want to be a black sheep. Suddenly friends can think something bad about you. And they can suspect that you are not a patriot. Such thoughts arise in the mind of any man, when he is asked to comment on the political situation to the camera.

That is why, when we see any video questions, it is necessary to take this aspect into account. Sometimes the refusal to answer is the concealment of their oppositional sentiments, and a positive response (for example, support for the current course of the country) may be caused more by a trend or a desire to be like everyone else.

The similar situation develops with modern Ukrainian journalists, or rather with their self-censorship.

So, the US State Department published a report on the state of human rights in the world in 2017. "Both independent and state-owned media periodically resort to self-censorship in covering stories that may subject politicians to criticism or that can be perceived by the public as not patriotic enough, providing information that can be used for Russian propaganda," noted in the American report.

Proceeding from the foregoing, we can state that we see a stalemate: some are afraid to ask, and others are afraid to answer.

Whom to believe?

In such conditions, the most objective are anonymous surveys. Pay attention to how on TV channels the viewers are periodically unanimous, demonstrating the point of view, which contrasts completely with the mainstream.

So, in 2017, at the TV show with Anna Herman she raised the question: "If you had a choice now - choose the past criminal authority or the current one, for whom would you vote?" As a result, 92% called for the return of the previous government. More than 47 thousand people voted.

Why is that? The reason is simple: a spiral of silence collapses. A person does not fear that someone will find out about his opinion and condemn him.

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