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''Propaganda'', an influential book written by Edward L. Bernays in 1928, incorporated the literature from
social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist o ...

social science
and
psychological manipulation Manipulation or Emotional manipulation is the use of devious means to exploit, control, or otherwise influence others to one’s advantage. In the extreme it is the purvey of tricksters, swindlers, and impostors who disrespect moral principles, d ...
into an examination of the techniques of public
communication Communication (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. Through the power o ...

communication
. Bernays wrote the book in response to the success of some of his earlier works such as ''
Crystallizing Public Opinion ''Crystallizing Public Opinion'' is a book written by Edward Bernays and published in 1923. It is perhaps the first book to define and explain the field of public relations. Bernays defines the public relations professional, counsel on public relat ...
'' (1923) and '' A Public Relations Counsel'' (1927). ''Propaganda'' explored the psychology behind manipulating masses and the ability to use symbolic action and
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 ...
to influence politics, effect social change, and lobby for gender and racial equality.
Walter Lippman Walter may refer to: People * Walter (name) Walter or Walther is a German masculine given name derived from Old High German ''Walthari'', composed of the elements ''walt-'' (Proto-Germanic ''*wald-'') "power", "forest" and ''hari'' (Proto-Germani ...
was Bernays' unacknowledged American mentor and his work ''
The Phantom Public ''The Phantom Public'' is a book published in 1925 by journalist Walter Lippmann Walter Lippmann (September 23, 1889 – December 14, 1974) was an American writer, reporter and political commentator. With a career spanning 60 years he is famou ...
'' greatly influenced the ideas expressed in ''Propaganda'' a year later. The work propelled Bernays into media historians' view of him as the "father of
public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English; American and British ...
."


Synopsis

Chapters one through six address the complex relationship between human
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
,
democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to cho ...

democracy
, and
corporations A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal person, legal ...

corporations
. Bernays' thesis is that "invisible" people who create knowledge and propaganda rule over the masses, with a monopoly on the
power Power most often refers to: * Power (physics) In physics, power is the amount of energy In , energy is the that must be to a or to perform on the body, or to it. Energy is a ; the law of states that energy can be in form, bu ...
to shape thoughts, values, and citizen response. "Engineering consent" of the masses would be vital for the survival of democracy. Bernays explains: "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of." Bernays expands this argument to the economic realm, appreciating the positive impact of propaganda in the service of
capitalism Capitalism is an economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea o ...

capitalism
. "A single factory, potentially capable of supplying a whole continent with its particular product, cannot afford to wait until the public asks for its product; it must maintain constant touch, through advertising and propaganda, with the vast public in order to assure itself the continuous demand which alone will make its costly plant profitable." Bernays places great importance on the ability of a propaganda producer, as he views himself, to unlock the motives behind an individual's
desires Desires are states of mind that are expressed by terms like "wanting", "wishing", "longing" or "craving". A great variety of features is commonly associated with desires. They are seen as propositional attitude A propositional attitude is a menta ...

desires
, not simply the reason an individual might offer. He argues, "Man's thoughts and actions are compensatory substitutes for desires which he has been obliged to suppress." Bernays suggests that propaganda may become increasingly effective and influential through the discovery of audiences' hidden
motives Motive(s) or The Motive(s) may refer to: * Motive (law) Film and television * Motives (film), ''Motives'' (film), a 2004 thriller * The Motive (film), ''The Motive'' (film), 2017 * Motive (TV series), ''Motive'' (TV series), 2013 * "The Motive", a ...

motives
. He asserts that the emotional response inherently present in propaganda limits the audience's choices by creating a binary mentality, which can result in quicker, more enthused responses. The final five chapters largely reiterate the concepts voiced earlier in the book and provide case studies for how to use propaganda to effectively advance
women's rights Women's rights are the and s claimed for and s worldwide. They formed the basis for the women's rights movement in the 19th century and the s during the 20th and 21st centuries. In some countries, these rights are institutionalized or supp ...
,
education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion ...

education
, and
social services Social services are a range of public services intended to provide support and assistance towards particular groups, which commonly include the disadvantaged The "disadvantaged" is a generic term for individuals or groups of people who: * Face speci ...
.


Reception and impact

Despite the relative significance of ''Propaganda'' to twentieth century media history and modern public relations, surprisingly little critique of the work exists. Public relations scholar Curt Olsen argues that the public largely accepted Bernays' "sunny" view of propaganda, an acceptance eroded by fascism in the
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
era. Olsen also argues that Bernays's skill with language allowed terms such as "education" to subtly replace darker concepts such as "indoctrination." Finally, Olsen criticizes Bernays for advocating "psychic ease" for the average person to have no burden to answer for his or her own actions in the face of powerful messages. On the other hand, writers such as Marvin Olasky justify Bernays as killing
democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to cho ...

democracy
in order to save it. In this way, the presence of an elite, faceless persuasion constituted the only plausible way to prevent
authoritarian Authoritarianism is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a mo ...
control. Concepts outlined in Bernays' ''Propaganda'' and other works enabled the development of the first "two-way model" of public relations, using elements of social science in order to better formulate public opinion. Bernays justified public relations as a profession by clearly emphasizing that no individual or group had a monopoly on the true understanding of the world. According to public relations expert Stuart Ewen, "What Lippman set out in grand, overview terms, Bernays is running through in how-to-do-it-terms." His techniques are now staples for public image creation and
political campaigns A political campaign is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making progress within a specific group. In democracies, political campaigns often refer to electoral campaigns, by which representatives are chosen or referend ...
.Tye, ix.


Notes


Sources

* Edward Bernays (1928). ''Propaganda''. Routledge. * Marvin Olasky (1984). "Roots of Modern Public Relations: The Bernays Doctrine." ''Public Relations Quarterly''. * Curt Olsen (July 2005). "Bernay vs. Ellul: Two views of propaganda". ''Public Relations Tactics'' 12(7), p. 28. * Joseph Turow (2011). ''Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication''. New York, New York: Routledge. * Larry Tye (2002). ''The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and The Birth of Public Relations''. Picador. * Propaganda (1928), Edward Bernays
catalog record on HathiTrust Digital Library


External links

*Stephen Bender.

LewRockwell.com, 2005-02-04
''Propaganda'' Book
{{Authority control 1928 non-fiction books Books about propaganda