Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Jacques Ellul on the masses and the individual

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Jacques Ellul on the masses and the individual

In his passage, Jacques Ellul states,

"conversely, propaganda does not aim, simply at the mass, the crowd. A
propaganda that functioned only where individuals are gathered together would be incomplete and insufficient."

In this section of his reading, Jacques Ellul is discussing one
of the external characteristics of propaganda which is the individual and
the masses. With this particular quote, Ellul is saying that although
propaganda is intended to reach a crowd or particular group of people, it still has to be able to touch each person individually in order to be effective and receive response. In this section he also discusses how the individual makes himself part of the mass just because they share the same views and beliefs. He uses the example of the radio to convey this point and says that although when you listen to the radio you may be alone and represent yourself as an individual, in reality, you represent a mass of people as well that share the same commonalities as yourself. In all, Ellul is saying that in the case of propaganda, in order to reach the masses, you must reach the individual first and I personally agree with this because the individuals and the masses work hand in hand in the society.


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good post on a key point.

This is a fundamental concept that must be grasped and understood. It appears confusing but is really quite simple: The propagandist must address the crowd so that each individual feels that he is being addressed as an individual, a person, not a part of a homogeneous mob or crowd. The individual must be mass produced, individualized standardization, the appearance of intimacy and the personalization of mass messages.

2/12/2007 10:00 PM  

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