HOME

TheInfoList




Harold Dwight Lasswell (February 13, 1902December 18, 1978) was an
American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is ...
political scientist Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of ...
and
communications theorist
communications theorist
. He earned his bachelor's degree in philosophy and economics and was a PhD student at the
University of Chicago The University of Chicago (UChicago) is a private university, private research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1890, its main campus is located in Chicago's Hyde Park, Chicago, Hyde Park neighborhood. In Fall 2021, it enrolled 18,45 ...
. He was a professor of law at
Yale University Yale University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...
. He studied at the Universities of London, Geneva, Paris, and Berlin in the 1920s . He served as president of the
American Political Science Association The American Political Science Association (APSA) is a professional association A professional association (also called a professional body, professional organization, or professional society) usually seeks to further Further or Furthur may re ...
(APSA), of the American Society of International Law and of the
World Academy of Art and Science The World Academy of Art and Science (WAAS) is an international non-governmental scientific organization, a world network Network and networking may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * ''Network'' (1976 film), a 1976 American film * ''N ...
(WAAS). He has been described as a "one-man university" whose "competence in, and contributions to, anthropology, communications, economics, law, philosophy, psychology, psychiatry and sociology are enough to make him a political scientist in the model of classical Greece." According to a biographical memorial written by
Gabriel Almond Gabriel Abraham Almond (January 12, 1911 – December 25, 2002) was an American political science, political scientist best known for his pioneering work on comparative politics, political development, and political culture. Biography Almond was b ...
at the time of Lasswell's death and published by the
National Academies of Sciences The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a United States nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a ...
in 1987, Lasswell "ranked among the half dozen creative innovators in the social sciences in the twentieth century." At the time, Almond asserted that "few would question that he was the most original and productive political scientist of his time." Areas of research in which Lasswell worked included the importance of
personality Personality is the characteristic sets of behaviors, cognitions, and emotional patterns that evolve from biological and environmental factors. While there is no generally agreed upon definition of personality, most theories focus on motivation a ...
,
social structure In the social sciences, social structure is the patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergence, emergent from and determinant of the Structure and agency, actions of individuals. Likewise, society is believed to be grouped int ...
, and
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals i ...

culture
in the explanation of political phenomena. Lasswell was associated with the disciplines of communication, political science, psychology, and sociology – however he did not adhere to the distinction between these boundaries but erased the lines drawn to divide these disciplines.


Work

Lasswell is well known for his model of communication, which focuses on "Who (says) What (to) Whom (in) What Channel (with) What Effect". He is also known for his book on aberrant
psychological Psychology is the scientific Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known ...
attributes of leaders in politics and business, ''Psychopathology and Politics'', as well as for another book on politics, ''Politics: Who Gets What, When, and How''. Lasswell studied at the
University of Chicago The University of Chicago (UChicago) is a private university, private research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1890, its main campus is located in Chicago's Hyde Park, Chicago, Hyde Park neighborhood. In Fall 2021, it enrolled 18,45 ...
in the 1920s, and was highly influenced by the pragmatism taught there, especially as propounded by
John Dewey John Dewey (; October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) was an American philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover of wisdom ...
and
George Herbert Mead George Herbert Mead (February 27, 1863 – April 26, 1931) was an American philosopher, sociologist, and psychologist, primarily affiliated with the University of Chicago, where he was one of several distinguished pragmatists. He is regarded ...

George Herbert Mead
. However, more influential on him was
Freud Sigmund Freud ( , ; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist Neurology (from el, νεῦρον (neûron), "string, nerve" and the suffix -logia, "study of") is a branch of medicine Me ...

Freud
ian philosophy, which informed much of his analysis of
propaganda Propaganda is communication that is primarily used to Social influence, influence an audience and further an Political agenda, agenda, which may not be Objectivity (journalism), objective and may be selectively presenting facts to encourage a pa ...
and communication in general. During World War II, Lasswell held the position of Chief of the Experimental Division for the Study of War Time Communications at the
Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LC) is the research library A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are easily accessible for use and not just for display purposes. It is responsible for housing updated information in order ...

Library of Congress
. He analyzed
Nazi propaganda Propaganda in Nazi Germany was the practice of state directed communication to promote German nationalism, the goals of the Nazi Party of Germany, and the party itself. The propaganda used by the German Nazi Party in the years leading up to and ...
films to identify mechanisms of persuasion used to secure the acquiescence and support of the German populace for Hitler and his wartime atrocities. Always forward-looking, late in his life, Lasswell experimented with questions concerning astropolitics, the political consequences of colonization of other planets, and the "machinehood of humanity". Lasswell introduced the concept of a " garrison state" in a highly influential and often cited 1941 article originally published in the ''
American Journal of Sociology The ''American Journal of Sociology'' is a peer-reviewed bi-monthly academic journal that publishes original research and book reviews in the field of sociology and related social sciences. It was founded in 1895 as the first journal in its dis ...
''. It was a "developmental construct" that outlined the possibility of a political-military elite composed of "specialists in violence" in a modern
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
. In his presidential address to the American Political Science Association, he raised the famous question, demanded by the expulsion of essences from the sciences, of whether or not we should give
human rights Human rights are moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
to
robot A robot is a machine—especially one Computer program, programmable by a computer—capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically. A robot can be guided by an external control device, or the robot control, control may be ...

robot
s. Lasswell's work was important in the post-World War II development of
behavioralism Behaviouralism (or behavioralism) is an approach in political science Political science is the scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and the analysis of politics, political activities, ...
. Similarly, his definition of propaganda was viewed as an important development to understanding the goal of propaganda. Lasswell's studies on propaganda produced breakthroughs on the subject which broadened current views on the means and stated objectives that could be achieved through propaganda to include not only the change of opinions but also change in actions. He inspired the definition given by the
Institute for Propaganda Analysis An institute is an organisation An organization, or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English; American and British English spelling differences#-ise, -ize (-isation, -ization), see spelling differences), ...
: "Propaganda is the expression of opinions or actions carried out deliberately by individuals or groups with a view to influence the opinions or actions of other individuals or groups for predetermined ends through psychological manipulations." Lasswell utilized Sigmund Freud's methodology. Upon studying in Vienna and Berlin with
Theodor Reik Theodor Reik (; 12 May 1888, Vienna en, Viennese , iso_code = AT-9 , registration_plate = Vehicle registration plates of Austria, W , postal_code_type = Postal code , postal_code ...
, a devotee of Freud, Lasswell was able to appropriate Freud's methods. Lasswell built a laboratory in his social science office. It was here that he conducted experiments on volunteers, students, at the University of Chicago Using this instrument, he was able to measure the participants’ emotional state to their spoken words. Lasswell was furthermore able to use psychoanalytical interviewing and recording methods that he appropriated from his time of studying with Elton Mayo at Harvard University. Lasswell was a “behavioral revolution” proponent. Lasswell was credited with being the founder of the field of political psychology and was the man at which the concepts of psychology and political science intersected. By utilizing psychoanalytic biographies of political leaders, he expanded the base from which potential evidence could be garnered. The benefit of this contribution is that he was able to engage in another method of research – content analysis. By being able to use preexisting data, he was in a position to show that his work was not purely positivist but also stepped into the realm of interpretivist as well – helping him to come together in studies of personality and culture in tandem with his political behavior research. Content analysis is the “investigation of communication messages by categorizing message content into classifications in order to measure certain variables” While the data existed to Lasswell in the form of analyzing the messages that Allied and Axis armies disseminated within warfare, it may not have been the most accurate of methodologies for analyzing the data. “Content analysts usually seeks to infer the effects of the messages that they have analyzed, although actual data about such communication effects are seldom available to the content analyst” While Lasswell was able to perform this particular type of analysis, the weakness to this was that Lasswell could not verify his data due to communication effects not actually being available. This is because content analysis cannot study effects. While this was a weakness, he did develop content analysis as a communication tool that is still utilized today. Lasswell also had an impact upon
Political Science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as ...
under the topic of
Policy Policy is a deliberate system of guideline A guideline is a statement by which to determine a course of action. A guideline aims to streamline particular processes according to a set routine or sound practice. Guidelines may be issued by a ...

Policy
but more specifically
Public Policy Public policy is an institutionalized proposal to solve relevant and real-world problems, guided by a conception and implemented by programs as a course of action created and/or enacted, typically by a government A government is th ...
and policy cycles. Defining public policies as government decisions with an emphasis on the bond between policy goals and policy means used to compose policies. Alongside the link between expectations of policies and the methods to achieve them for governments, Lasswell can be also noted for his contribution to policy cycle with his seven-stage cycle to ensure societies' problems are handled by the implementation of public policy. However, some argue that Lasswell never meant the seven-stages to be understood as a policy cycle or a linear process
Leo Rosten Leo Calvin Rosten (Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews Ashkenazi Jews ( are a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO ...
included an appreciation of him in "People I have loved, known or admired".


Contributions

Lasswell made these contributions to the field of communication study: *His five-questions model of communication led to the emphasis in communication study on determining effects. Lasswell's contemporary,
Paul Lazarsfeld Paul Felix Lazarsfeld (February 13, 1901August 30, 1976) was an Austrian-American sociologist. The founder of Columbia University Columbia University (also known as Columbia, and officially as Columbia University in the City of New York) is ...
, did even more to crystallize this focus on communication effects. *He pioneered in content analysis methods, virtually inventing the methodology of qualitative and quantitative measurement of communication messages (propaganda messages and newspaper editorials, for example). *His study of political and wartime propaganda represented an important early type of communication study. The word propaganda later gained a negative connotation and is not used much today, although there is even more political propaganda. Propaganda analysis has been absorbed into the general body of communication research. *He introduced Freudian psychoanalytic theory to the social sciences in America. Lasswell integrated Freudian theory with political analysis, as in his psychoanalytic study of political leaders. He applied Freud's id-ego-superego via content analysis to political science problems. In essence, he utilized intraindividual Freudian theory at the societal level. *He helped create the policy sciences, an interdisciplinary movement to integrate social science knowledge with public action. The social sciences, however, generally resisted this attempt at integration and application to public policy problem.


Selected bibliography

Articles
"The Garrison State."
''
American Journal of Sociology The ''American Journal of Sociology'' is a peer-reviewed bi-monthly academic journal that publishes original research and book reviews in the field of sociology and related social sciences. It was founded in 1895 as the first journal in its dis ...
'', Vol. 46, No. 4, January 1941, pp. 455–468.
"Does the Garrison State Threaten Civil Rights?"
'' Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science'', Vol. 275, Civil Rights in America, May 1951, pp. 111-116.
"The Promise of the World Order Modelling Movement."
''
World Politics ''World Politics'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a ...
'', Vol. 29, No. 3, April 1977, pp. 425-437. Books
''Propaganda and Promotional Activities: An Annotated Bibliography''
(1935) *''Politics: Who Gets What, When, How'' (1936)"Some Recent Books on International Relations."
Review of ''Politics: Who Gets What, When, How'' by Harold D. Lasswell. ''
Foreign Affairs ''Foreign Affairs'' is an American magazine of international relations International relations (IR), international affairs (IA) or international studies (IS) is the scientific study of interactions between sovereign states. In a broader ...

Foreign Affairs
'', Vol. 15, No. 2, January 1937, p. 386. Archived fro
the original.
. ::"Discussion of the methods by which individuals and classes get and keep political power, with concrete illustrations drawn from practice in various nations. The author is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago."

''World Revolutionary Propaganda: A Chicago Study''
(1939)
''World Politics Faces Economics''
(1945)
''Propaganda, Communication, and Public Opinion: A Comprehensive Reference Guide''
(1946)
''The Analysis of Political Behaviour: An Empirical Approach''
(1948) *''The Structure and Function of Communication in Society'' (1948)
''National Security and Individual Freedom''
(1950)
''Power and Society: A Framework for Political Inquiry''
(1950)
''Language of Politics''
(1949)
''Propaganda Technique in the World War''
(1927; Reprinted with a new introduction, 1971)
''Psychopathology and Politics''
(1930; Reprinted, 1986)
''World Politics and Personal Insecurity''
(1935; Reprinted with a new introduction, 1965)
''Politics: Who Gets What, When, How''
(1936)
''Power and Personality''
(1948)
''Political Writings: Representative Selections''
(1951)
''The Future of Political Science''
(1963)
''World Revolutionary Elites: Studies in Coercive Ideological Movements''
(1965) *''Political Communication: Public Language of Political Elites in India and the US'' (1969)
''A Pre-view of Policy Sciences''
(1971)
''Peasants, Power, and Applied Social Change: Vicos as a Model''
(1971)
''The Search for World Order: Studies by Students and Colleagues of Quincy Wright''
(1971)
''Values and Development: Praising Asian Experience''
(1976)


See also

* William Ascher *
Charles O. Jones Charles O. Jones (born 1931) is non-resident Senior Fellow at the Miller Center of Public Affairs The Miller Center is a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia that specializes in United States President, United States presidential s ...
* John W. Kingdon * Myres McDougall * Herbert A. Simon *
Overton window The Overton window is the range of policies politically acceptable to the mainstream population at a given time. It is also known as the window of discourse. The term is named after American policy analyst Joseph P. Overton, who stated that an ...

Overton window


Further reading

Articles *Marvick, Dwaine
"The Work of Harold D. Lasswell: His Approach, Concerns, and Influence."
''
Political Behavior Theories of political behavior, as an aspect of political science Political science is the scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and the analysis of politics, political activitie ...
'', Vol. 2, No. 3, 1980, pp. 219–229. *Eulau, Heinz, and Susan Zlomk
"Harold D. Lasswell’s Legacy to Mainstream Political Science: A Neglected Agenda."
''
Annual Review of Political Science ''Annual Review of Political Science'' is an annual peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by quali ...
'', Vol. 2, 1999, pp. 75–89. Bibliography *Muth, Rodney, and Marcia F. Muth
''Harold D. Lasswell: An Annotated Bibliography''.
Springer Science & Business Media Springer Science+Business Media, commonly known as Springer, is a German multinational publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. ...
, 1990. / .


References


External links


Harold Dwight Lasswell papers
at
Yale University Library The Yale University Library is the library system of Yale University Yale University is a private Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athletic conference comprising eight private ...

Biographical Memoir
at the
National Academy of Sciences The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a United States nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a ...
{{DEFAULTSORT:Lasswell, Harold 1902 births 1978 deaths
American political scientists {{CatAutoTOC Political scientists by nationality Political scientists American political writers ...
Communication theorists Analysands of Theodor Reik
University of Chicago alumni Alumni of the University of Chicago ''For a more complete listing, see the article: List of University of Chicago people'' {{CatAutoTOC, numerals=no Alumni by university or college in Illinois, Chicago University of Chicago people, Alumni ...
Social Science Research Council Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences