Back Issues


Silence as a Power

Helen Jaqueline McLaren, Suzanne Ingram, Glory Joy Gatwiri,Anne Mumbi Karanja, Faraha Nawaz, Dora Asomani Owusu, Cassandra Star, Tejaswini Patil, Gretchen Marie Ennis, Asha Mukherjee, Ross Watkins, Félix Calvino, Christina Jerne, David Hollinsworth, Melinda Huurdeman, Madison Hadland, Malachi Doyle, Rory Harris, Graham Rowlands, Steve Brock, David Gilbey, Sarah St Vincent, R. D. Wood

35 [1]



Sociological, political and feminist writings most often associate silence with powerlessness, particularly in relationships characterised by power imbalances. The greater the power of certain individuals, the more likely others with less power will experience humiliation and pain, and conclude with silence (McNay 1992; Eriksson et al. 2008; McLaren 2013). Hence, to understand the silence of the subject individual, one could propose that silence is a product of power rather than that of the individual.

Disempowered groups in a given social system likewise become silenced by the greater socio-political powers around them (Chávez and Griffin 2009). In particular, the power structures in some cultural contexts have vested interest in muting the scope and extent of particular social problems; silencing, therefore, may lead to increasing power of authorities and ongoing reinforcement of cruelty towards the oppressed. One significant example is the silencing of the extent, scope and ongoing abuse against women and children in some cultures and nations, which Romito (2008) locates as a deafening silence that persists despite genuine advances in the understanding of gender power and violence.


To be able to access this issue you must sign up and pay the subscription fee to the Social Alternative website.

If you already have an account, please log in here.