Edwin and Shirley Ardener first discussed muted group theory in 1975. Crawford and Chaffin (1986) and Rubin (1993) expanded on this concept, helping to explain its importance in an academic setting. Rubin summarizes the theory succinctly:
In a society where groups of people live in uneven power structures, the dominant group controls language and norms for its use. Members of the muted group have trouble articulating their experience as there are no terms for it in the language of the dominant groupůsome element of meaning is inevitably lost (11).In face-to-face settings, it has historically been women and minorities who experience the frustration of muting. However, online environments offer the opportunity to mask racial and gendered identities. What form, then, would muting take in distance education? Which type of student faces the greatest risk of being muted in an online class?