Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: PR! Chapter 4: Controlling Chaos by Catherine Leiva

Thursday, May 16, 2013

PR! Chapter 4: Controlling Chaos by Catherine Leiva

Walter Lippmann
In chapter four, Controlling Chaos, of PR!, author Stuart Ewen tries to make a connection between the ideas of three intellectuals: Walter Lippmann, Gustave Le Bon, Gabriel Tarde. 
Walter Lippmann was a Harvard student who focused on urgent social problems of the day. He was a part of the socialist party and according to Theodore Roosevelt, was said to be the most brilliant man of his age. Through muckraking, he fought to answer the question, “Will the people rule? Is democracy possible?”

In the late 1800s, he associated social science with social management. According to Ewen, “Accompanying a democratic current of social analysis that sought to educate the public at large, another - more cabalistic - tradition of social-scientific thought was emerging, one that saw the study of society as a tool by which a technocratic elite could help serve the interests of vested power.” In 1914, Lippmann published Drift and Mastery arguing that rational scientific governing can overcome forces of societal drift and that because of social and economic change, old ideas and institutions lacked importance.
Gustave Le Bon

Gustave Le Bon was a French social psychologist who wrote the book, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind. This scientist’s book focused on social thought and social emergency. Theodore Roosevelt not only admired Lippmann’s work but Le Bon’s as well and was an avid reader of his.

Gabriel Tarde
Gabriel Tarde’s goal was to prove that it was possible to accomplish social mastery. He analyzed and compared “the crowd” versus “the public.” According to Tarde, the public always had a stronger will than the crowd. He also worked towards understanding the growth of national and international media mediums.


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