Trump and the Spiral of Silence



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This study explores how 14 conservative college students managed their political expressions on campus during and after the 2020 U.S. presidential election with Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann’s theory of the spiral of silence. Through conducting in-depth qualitative interviews with conservative students or alumni from the University of Houston and Texas A&M University, it was found that several participants from the University of Houston felt strong social pressure to censor their political expressions while most of the sample from Texas A&M University did not. Students in the sample reported experiencing social pressure in two primary domains: classrooms and greater campus. This paper contributes to theory by considering the role that institutions can play in peoples’ political expressions. Findings suggested a possible association between two-step flow theory and the spiral of silence theory in some outcomes. Affective social interactions with professors and other students, or “episodes” are discussed.



Donald Trump, Trump, Spiral of Silence, Freedom of Speech, Silent Majority, Conservative, College Campus, University of Houston, Texas A&M,