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The Elephant in the RoomSilence and Denial in Everyday Life$
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Eviatar Zerubavel

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195187175

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195187175.001.0001

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Breaking the Silence

Breaking the Silence

Chapter:
(p.61) Chapter Five Breaking the Silence
Source:
The Elephant in the Room
Author(s):

Eviatar Zerubavel

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195187175.003.0005

This chapter emphasizes the collaborative nature of conspiracies of silence, illustrating how each conspirator's actions are symbiotically complemented by the others'. Breaking a conspiracy of silence involves acknowledging the presence of the elephant in the room, by making the elephant's presence part of the public discourse. Publicity critically acts in preventing and counteracting denial. Like silence itself, breaking it is a collaborative endeavor that involves an entire social system. For a conspiracy of silence to actually end, there ultimately need to be no more conspirators left to keep it alive. The situation of being in a minority and facing the majority's pressure to maintain a conspiracy of silence becomes more pronounced as the number of conspirators increases. Conspirators of silence may try to actively divert attention away from silence breakers or ask everybody around to “move on” and not “dwell on” the elephants they exposed.

Keywords:   silence, breaking, conspiracy, elephant, publicity, conspirators, denial

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