Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Weekly Blog For Characteristics of Propaganda- Ellul

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Weekly Blog For Characteristics of Propaganda- Ellul

This article written by Jacques Ellul was an very informative article. It took me a long time to read and fully understand everything that was mentioned in the article. As I read further and further into the article I almost felt like I was in an advertising class. On the first page, second paragraph, "modern propaganda is based on scientific analyses of pyschology and sociology...knowledge of man, his tendencies, his desires, his needs, his pyschic mechanisms, his conditions and as much on social psychology as on depth psychology." This definition is very similar to the aspects of advertising. Also another thing that reminded me of advertising is the fact of trying to reach each individual in a large mass of people.

Not only did it feel like advertising it felt like propaganda to me with the same ideas and concepts being repeated throughout the entire article. In the article it talks about how repetition must be continuous and lasting to be affective. I believe this article definitely shows through its words how affective it is for repetition.

Another thing I found interesting was the references to the Soviet Union as well as Nazi Germany. On page 9 when they talk about the Chinese writer Mao Dun and how he shows the readers a simple passage, "the flowers perfume the air, the moon shines, man has a long life." and how it could be turned into propaganda through the use of symbolism. It shows how the Soviets tried to related to its audience how it will last for ever amongst other things.


Blogger csteenbuck said...

Your mentioning of the Chinese author Mao Dun is rather interesting to me, because it was a piece of the text that stood out to me as well. "The flowers perfume the air, the moon shines, man has a long life". This phrase to most reading it the first time would sound like poetry, but when Ellul uses it to explain his point, you realize that a play on words is truley just a simple way of propoganda. Overall, you seemed to have understood the ideas that Ellul was putting forth, and I enjoyed reading your blog.

1/26/2006 3:46 PM  
Blogger A. Mattson said...

Yes, there is a relationship to advertising. Advertising is another form of mass persuasion. Ellul's ideas relate to advertising because his idea is that modern propaganda is about creating action. Advertising is also about creating an action: buying.

The first basic point that Ellul makes is that the modern propagandist must use science: sociology, psychology, etc. Of course the modern advertiser does this as well.

Repetition is a key aspect of both advertising and propaganda. Ellul's point here is that the a single message, or a few messages, are not sufficient for mass persuasion. The mass media are not powerful enough to move the masses without constant repetition and the mobilization of many channels of communication.

Ellul's example of Mao Dun illustrated how almost any popular theme can be reinterpreted and pushed towards the ends of the propagandist. The propgandist must work with what is already in the hearts and minds of the population and associate it with his ideology and goals.

1/30/2006 11:17 PM  

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