Propaganda & Mass Persuasion

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Reading the chapter the "Biography of an Idea" has given me an opportunity to think about the role of public opinion in our society. Stuart Ewen, mentions the role Walter Lippman had in analyzing public opinion. He talked about how the society was being transformed by the new technologies and networks by using sound images. Most of the time these tools are used to persuade people to believe in things that perhaps are ‘ meaningless in themselves ‘. A perfect example in our contemporary society is perhaps the use of images by television network. These images sometimes are used to tell people of the things that are happening in the United States. However, sometimes there is considerable bias and a clear intention to manipulate people. They often try to convince the society that something is true even if it is a total lie. Lipman mentions that possibility:
“the number of human problems on which reason is prepared to dictate is small .'Public opinion therefore, was an essentially irrational force. "'
I think these quote explains why a lot of people are dominated by others, because for the most part people do not think rationally or think for themselves. If public opinion is irrational then I honestly cannot understand why the media convinces people to do certain things for society. For instance, during election time, the majority of the time the media plays an important role in persuading the people to vote either for a Republican or a Democrat. But there is little objective information to help you understand the difference. Sometimes I get a little confused about the terms myself !!!
Bradley photo

Mark Twain


Blogger A. Mattson said...

Yes, the realization that public opinion was "essentially an irrational force" is a key moment in the history of mass persuasion.

Bernays would argue that persuasion is a natural part of democracy, so it makes perfect sense that the mass media are full of persuasive messages. He would say that the freedom to persuade is freedom of speech. There would be no contradiction for him in the use of PR to create "good government."

A couple minor points: First, always use a title when posting; second, why do you have an image of Mark Twain in your post?

3/18/2009 12:04 PM  

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