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The Spiral of Invisibility: Social Control in the South Korean Blogosphere

  • Jeong Kim

Abstract

With the growth of the weblog around the world, it is portrayed as one of the most democratic media in history. This paper sets out to rethink the role of the politics of visibility in relation to the spiral of silence theory in shaping the potentially democratic space of blogs. With an emphasis on the socio-cultural context of South Korea, this paper explores how collective social pressure imposes new constraints on the interaction and exchange of opinions in the blogosphere. Based on participant observation at Ohmynews Blog service and Yahoo Korea Blog, this paper examines how the complexity of self-disclosure through blogging and the gaze of other bloggers affect the interaction and opinion expression. It concludes that the blogosphere, or at least some part of it, is a terrain contested from within, reflecting larger socio-political discourses and cultural currents within which such blog uses are embedded and become culturally appropriated. In relation to the disempowering silence in the Spiral of Silence model, invisibility is both a consequence of disempowerment by others and an empowering experience against visible flaming and social disapproval.

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