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User:Geofferybard/Cultures of Silence: A Collaborative Perspective

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CULTURES OF SCIENCE: A Collaborative Perspective welcomes thoughtful editorial contributions from any and all perspective. Please note that unity of vision and consistency are important goals and in some cases contributions would be more appropriately created as an independent book. The discussion page further develops opportunities and options in this regard.


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Outside agitators[edit]

In the wikipaediae outside of wikibooks, James Neill, an administrator and bureacrat at wikiversity has really been a very positive and welcoming force which is reciprocally quite welcome indeed. It is hoped that this book can be developed into a resource for the pedagogy project at wikiversity.

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Cultures of silence have been described pejoratively as markers of apathy,complicity in illicit conduct, including victim complicity [1]and as a contributing factor in creating ignorance of public health information[2], but some scholars contend that in many cultures silence is revered. "Cultures such as Japan, China, Thailand, Swaziland, Ethiopia, and Kenya value silence. Asian cultures associate silence with wisdom and it is used to express power". [3] Morevover, religion has long recognized the virtue of silence in meditation and communal life.[4]

The specific phrased received its definitive scholarly delineation with publication of a book by the same title by Paulo Freire. In Cultures of Silence, he set forth a theory of dialogic communication [5] and the thesis that these cultures provide a matrix in which [6]"dominated individuals lose the means by which to critically respond to the culture that is forced on them by a dominant culture". In other contexts, trade secret and military secrecy protocols protect information from use contrary to the perceived interests of the social group which maintains it. include monastic orders seeking spiritual growth; criminal societies, and institutional cultures of silence as may exist in secular organizations which do not engage in criminal activity and whose existence itself is not secret. Inspired by Freire, Armstrong, writing at the University of Leeds, further investigated the use of the concept with respect to learning environments. [7]

Pedagogic use of silence[edit]

Frei's origination of the frame of reference has inspired continuing scholarly inquiry, much of which, as with Brown, is not consistent with Frei's association of silence with moral failing tantamount to collaborationism. Investigating "contradictions around the place and nature of silence in pedagogic spaces", Paul Armstrong focused on "looking at how different 'academic tribes' value the use of silence". Whereas traditionally silence had been emphasized as the prequisite to learning, he sought to demonstrate that "in other cultures of learning, there is a persistent attempt to break or disturb the silence". [8] This opinion contrasts with that of Brown, above, in that it associates Western cultural with a preference with silence, but the preference is situational insofar as Armstrong notes that "one teacher broadly recognising silence as integral to learning, the other who is disturbed by silence as an absence of learning."

Spiritual and religious silence in orthodoxies[edit]

Christian West[edit]

Monastic silence is the practice of silence. It may or may not be in accordance with formal vows of silence but can also engage lay practitioners who have not taken vows or novices who are preparing to take vows. Monastic silence is more highly developed in the Roman Catholic faith than in Protestantism, but it is not limited to Catholicism and has corresponding manifestation in Orthodox church.[citation needed] The practice of silence is observed during different parts of the day; practitioners talk when they need to but maintain a sense of silence or a sense of prayer when talking [9]

One of the leading exponents of monastic contemplative awareness is Thomas Merton. His poem, "In Silence" begins as follows:

Be still. Listen to the stones of the wall. Be silent, they try to speak your name.


  1. Breaking the culture of silence : uniting to fight domestic violence Author:Aruna Burte; Centre for Enquiry into Health & Allied Themes (Bombay, India); Dilaasa (Centre) Publisher:Mumbai : Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes : Dilasa, 2008.
  2. http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/7273-culture-of-silence-puts-asian-women-at-aids-risk/
  3. cited by Joann Brown, Chair, Communication Arts, Florida International Universiy at http://www2.fiu.edu/~brownj/spc2600/Discussion%20Topics/SilenceandCulture.pdf
  4. Silence and sign language in medieval monasticism : the Cluniac tradition c. 900-1200 Author:Scott G Bruce Publisher:Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2007. Series: Cambridge studies in medieval life and thought, 4th ser., 68.
  5. http://campus.arbor.edu/media_ethics8/dr_christians_digital_library/Christians1996CulturesofSilenceandTechnologicalDevelopment.pdf
  6. http://www.education.miami.edu/ep/contemporaryed/Paulo_Freire/paulo_freire.html
  7. http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/163812.htm
  8. http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/163812.htm
  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDQgMag2-sk
  10. http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/M/MertonThomas/InSilence.htm

The Rule of St. Benedict praised silence and set the standard for subsequent orders. Noted author Thomas Merton has praised the benefits of silence and solitude, following a long line of contemplative mystics.


In Zen, Ch'an, and other forms of Buddhism, silent meditation is often practice with or without interludes of chanting.


The Tao Te Ching enunciates a view of the supreme value of doing absolutely nothing, in a profound metaphysical sense. This is called wu wei and consistent with the concept of sunyata more fully elaborated in Buddhism.

Spiritual and religious silence in heretical societies[edit]

With the advent of the suppression of heresies with the Albigensian Crusade, gnostic practice went underground. Similarly, with the persecution of witches and the Spanish Inquisition, even legitimate orders such as the Carmelites came to see the wisdom of taciturnity. Many otherwise orthodox religious organizations are forced to operate in a clandestine manner due to religious persecution by orthodox societies, and thus share structure and function with heretical societies because, in context, they are. The difference is that they have the support of their own faith in areas under control of like minded individuals, whereas pure heretical societies must operate with considerably smaller areas of undisputed control. As a result, silence is the norm. [1]

Crime subculture, the classic secret society[edit]

Omerta is the code of silence enforced by historic entities best described in the fiction of Mario Puzo in Omerta|the book of that name and his other titles such as The Godfather.[2] Often associated with anti-Italian stereotyping, the culture described in Puzo's riveting prose takes its moral ground from a and a view of Iron John|masculinity associated with discretion, holistic mindfulness of that Ideas Have Consequences|words have consequences may have upon others, and group loyalty. Similar conditions obtain for other non-legal enterprises, many of which model upon the aforesaid role models.

The Right to Remain Silent[edit]

US Constitutional Amendment V provides for the right of the accused in criminal proceedings to refrain from making incriminating statements.

The Miranda ruling and the exclusionary rule[edit]

Import requested.

Intelligence agencies[edit]

The CIA and its corresponding national intelligence agencies practice compartmentalization of knowledge, also known as stovepiping. Although these practices were re-evaluated subsequent to the September 11 terrorist attacks, they continue.

Comaraderie: the thin blue line[edit]

Whereas the margin between order and anarchy has been described as a thin blue line, the frequently alleged reluctant of officers to provide derogatory information on their co-workers is known as the "blue wall of silence".

Corporate trade secrets[edit]

Another area of organizational secrecy frequently alluded to concerns patents in developement for inventions, recipes and medicines. Famous examples include Coca-cola and Sara Lee cheese cake.


Frequently, cultures of silence are alleged to be linked to the emergency of very specific conspiracies of silence.

Unintended consequences of cultures of silence[edit]

Ignorance of public health information[edit]

According to Kathleen Cravero, deputy executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). "This culture of silence that prevails in Asia -- good women don't ask about sex, they don't seek to know about sex, they don't ask their husbands or partners about their sexual activities -- puts women at great risk." said.[3]

Victim reluctance[edit]

It has been noted that victims of crime such as rape and domestic abuse frequently manifest reluctance to complain. This "culture of silence" is at times challenged and becomes the topic of heated public discussion when events such as the US lacrosse team rape prosecution break into public view. [4]

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External links[edit]

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  1. In the name of heaven : 3,000 years of religious persecution Author:M J Engh Publisher: Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 2007. Summary: Provides an overview of religious violence around the world from the fourteenth century BCE through the nineteenth century CE and explains who did what to whom on the basis of religious differences and disagreements.
  2. Mafia Brotherhoods: Organized Crime, Italian Style Letizia Paoli New York: Oxford University Press, 2003
  3. http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/7273-culture-of-silence-puts-asian-women-at-aids-risk/
  4. Ferguson, The Washington Post, May 30th, 2006

Please add {{alphabetical}} only to book title pages.