Propaganda

propaganda, systematic manipulation of public opinion, generally by the use of symbols such as flags, monuments, oratory, and publications. Modern propaganda is distinguished from other forms of communication in that it is consciously and deliberately used to influence group attitudes; all other functions are secondary. Thus, almost any attempt to sway public opinion, including lobbying, commercial advertising, and missionary work, can be broadly construed as propaganda. Generally, however, the term is restricted to the manipulation of political beliefs. Although allusions to propaganda can be found in ancient writings (e.g., Aristotle's Rhetoric), the organized use of propaganda did not develop until after the Industrial Revolution, when modern instruments of communication first enabled propagandists to easily reach mass audiences. The printing press, for example, made it possible for Thomas Paine's Common Sense to reach a large number of American colonists. Later, during the 20th cent., the advent of radio and television enabled propagandists to reach even greater numbers of people. In addition to the development of modern media, the rise of total warfare and of political movements has also contributed to the growing importance of propaganda in the 20th cent. In What Is To Be Done? (1902) V. I. Lenin emphasized the use of "agitprop," a combination of political agitation and propaganda designed to win the support of intellectuals and workers for the Communist revolution. Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini also used propaganda, especially in oratory, to develop and maintain the support of the masses. During World War II all the warring nations employed propaganda, often called psychological warfare, to boost civilian and military morale as well as to demoralize the enemy. The U.S. agency charged with disseminating wartime propaganda was the Office of War Information. In the postwar era propaganda activities continue to play a major role in world affairs. The United States Information Agency (USIA) was established in 1953 to facilitate the international dissemination of information about the United States. Radio Moscow, Radio Havana, and The Voice of America are just three of the large radio stations that provide information and propaganda throughout the world. In addition, certain refinements of the propaganda technique have developed, most notably brainwashing, the intensive indoctrination of political opponents against their will.

See J. Ellul, Propaganda (1965, repr. 1973); T. C. Sorensen, The Word War (1967); T. J. Smith II, ed., Propaganda (1989).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Propaganda: Selected full-text books and articles

Propaganda
Lindley Fraser.
Oxford University Press, 1957
Understanding Propaganda from a General Semantics Perspective
Fleming, Charles A.
ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, Vol. 52, No. 1, Spring 1995
Propaganda: Can a Word Decide a War?
Murphy, Dennis M.; White, James F.
Parameters, Vol. 37, No. 3, Autumn 2007
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Munitions of the Mind: A History of Propaganda from the Ancient World to the Present Era
Philip M. Taylor.
Manchester University Press, 2003 (3rd edition)
Total Propaganda: From Mass Culture to Popular Culture
Alex S. Edelstein.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997
You Can't Fight Tanks with Bayonets: Psychological Warfare against the Japanese Army in the Southwest Pacific
Allison B. Gilmore.
University of Nebraska Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "Tracing the Historical Roots of Propaganda in Wartime"
The Triumph of Propaganda: Film and National Socialism, 1933-1945
Hilmar Hoffmann; John A. Broadwin; V. R. Berghahn.
Berghahn Books, 1997
Taking the Risk out of Democracy: Propaganda in the US and Australia
Alex Carey; Andrew Lohrey.
University of New South Wales, 1995
The Law: The Executive Branch and Propaganda: The Limits of Legal Restrictions
Kosar, Kevin R.
Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 4, December 2005
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
To Win the Peace: British Propaganda in the United States during World War II
Susan A. Brewer.
Cornell University Press, 1997
Politicians, the Press & Propaganda: Lord Northcliffe & the Great War, 1914-1919
J. Lee Thompson.
Kent State University Press, 1999
The New Diplomacy in Italy: American Propaganda and U.S. - Italian Relations, 1917-1919
Louis John Nigro Jr.
Peter Lang, 1999
Marketing Marianne: French Propaganda in America, 1900-1940
Robert J. Young.
Rutgers University Press, 2004
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