Perpetuating Patriotic Perceptions: The Cognitive Funtion of the Cold War

By Matthew S. Hirshberg | Go to book overview

4
Cold War Themes in American Culture

No one wants a conflict with the Soviet Union, but it sure makes for thrilling fiction.

-- Television advertisement for B. Dalton Booksellers

1997, after ten years of Soviet occupation, ten years without freedom in a land called Amerika. . . . Amerika, next.

-- Television advertisement for the Amerika mini-series

The cultural predominance of the cold war schema was perpetuated through the interactions of schema-using individuals and schema-structured products of culture. Cold war schema users wrote novels, screenplays, textbooks, scholarly articles, news reports, and speeches, and they often framed them in cold war terms. In a culture of cold war schema users, these products were in demand; people found the scenarios meaningful and the themes gratifying, and they were willing and eager to spend substantial amounts of time and/or money on the consumption of cold war culture.

In the United States, an Orwellian "Ministry of Truth" is not needed to control entertainment, news, and education; the invisible hand of the market is both effective and insidious. Propaganda is a consumer item -- people buy it because they find it gratifying and useful ( Ellul, 1965). In the American free market for entertainment, some themes sell, and the cold war schema was one of them. East-West conflict provided the black-and-white backdrop for countless espionage and adventure thrillers. The contrast between stereotyped Soviet oppression

-97-

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Perpetuating Patriotic Perceptions: The Cognitive Funtion of the Cold War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures and Tables ix
  • Preface xiii
  • 1 - "America Won the Cold War!": an Introduction 1
  • Note 14
  • Part I - The Cold War Schema in America 15
  • 2 - Cognition, Culture, and the Cold War Schema 17
  • 3 - Cold War Opinion in America 50
  • Notes 95
  • 4 - Cold War Themes in American Culture 97
  • 5 - Central American Elections on Network News: Cases of Cold War Framing 107
  • Note 123
  • Part II - Cognitive Effects of the Cold War Schema 125
  • 6 - Common Meanings for Cold War Concepts 127
  • Notes 142
  • 7 - Balance, Stability, and Change in the Cold War Schema 144
  • Notes 162
  • 8 - Attributions for Superpower Interventions 163
  • Note 180
  • 9 - Cold War Goals in American Foreign Policy: Nicaragua and the World 181
  • Note 187
  • 10 - Choosing Sides with the Cold War Schema 188
  • 11 - Recalling Information Consistent with the Cold War Schema 197
  • 12 - Conclusion 209
  • References 213
  • Index 223
  • About the Author *
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