Why so quiet? Exploring inhibition in digital public spaces


Sakariassen, H. & Costera Meijer, I. (2021). “Why so quiet? Exploring inhibition in digital public spaces”. In European Journal of Communication, First Published June 20, 2021, 1-7. London: SAGE Publications. Retrieved August 14, 2021 from https://doi.org/10.1177/02673231211017346

Work data:

ISSN: 1460-3705

Type of work: Article (academic)


Participation | Social Media & Social Software


echo chambers


Social network sites have been considered as important arenas for public debate, but as a large proportion of users do not actively participate, there is a need to further our understanding of a phenomenon as hidden, unnoticed and invisible as non-participation. We argue that inhibition is a valuable socio-psychological lens to study non-participation, usefully extending the conceptual framework of political communication regarding non-participation, and offering a more precise way of theorising the intent behind this apparent passivity. Using representative survey data collected in Norway in 2017 (N?=?2064), we first sensitise the multi-layered concept of inhibition through combining different dominant approaches: the spiral-of-silence theory, the harsh debate climate, political efficacy, and specific properties of social network sites related to identity and impression management. Second, we show that inhibition functions as an in-between concept balancing participation and non-participation in social network sites. Through factor analysis principal component factor (PCF), we integrate established theories that allow us to define overarching dimensions of inhibition, demonstrating that it is a complex phenomenon not easily understood through one specific theoretical perspective.