On the "Propaganda"


From the very beginning of the 20th century to the 1940’s, there were two giant wars that had effected at a tremendous rate almost all part of the universe. In this era, scholarly thought that media has enormous power to consent people what it intented to. With the conception of paradigm of mass society and the atmosphere of the war it was commonly accepted that mass communication tools are the most powerful propaganda tools which can easily effect on people’s visions on their mind. In other words, all these times mediated tools were seen and deemed as “brain washing tools”.  The dominant model in these times were hypodermic syringe model and it was percieved that the messages of media were sent to the minds of people just like how a nurse injects a syringe to a patient. In this regard, masses can be easily manipulated by the hand of the media instituitons and if one that would use media tools properly, than it will probably gain all over it. This assumption came with propanganda analysis as Harold Laswell put it down as scholarly.

But what is propaganda? We have to describe it and then scrutinize deeply with its historical background and have to mention what the today’s techniques are.

Meaning of propaganda has always been debated but it could be defined as the integrated messages that once organized and planned in order to effect masses’ behaviours and thinking. Considering this definition of propaganda, the primarily intention is not providing an independent information, but are presenting an information which can manipulate their own masses at first. This message generally use at politics, especially on behalf of the political parties or powers.

The word “propaganda” comes from modern Latin -propagatus which means circulate things in particular thoughts and ideas. When we look at the modern type of the word, we can move on from what Wikipedia says: “Originally this word derived from a new administrative body of the Catholic Church (congregation) created in 1622, called the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide (Congregation for Propagating the Faith), or informally simply Propaganda. Its activity was aimed at "propagating" the Catholic faith in non-Catholic countries.


When we turn back to the historical background of propaganda, we might say how Gustave Le Bon’s quite important theoritical contribution to the sociology which is known as quoted “An individual in a crowd is a grain of sand amid other grains of sand, which the wind stirs up at will” overlapping with incidents during the war times. According to Le Bon, the masses can easily be manipulated by media as an external factor. The peak times of the propaganda were exactly when the faschist rulers came into power in Germany and socialist ones in Soviet Russia. During the World War II, the mass communication was deemed just as propaganda. Afterwards, this sense of communication faded away with the beginning of economically booming period of West countries. Emergence of wealthy, integrated society which consist of people who show solidarity each other paved a way to criticise propaganda model and bring more pluralist view of media. The very important scholar of this era was Paul Lazarsfeld who had showed that the effects of mass communication tools on the people is “very stricted”. But he then asserted with Robert Merton a different notion which they called “narcotic dysfuntion” concept which defines the audience’s non-reaction type on the issues  they encourage rather than take an action.


Let’s carry on with propaganda’s itself and ask:

What are the techniques of propaganda? First, as everybody probably knows it very well, the Slogan. The propagandist should envisage an effective motto which could be accepted by masses so rapidly and wholeheartedly. This motto has to be clear, easy and catcy. Second, repetition. If the motto or idea can repeat enough, then it can be settled down to mind’s of people who be objected of. Third, oversimplification. It  provides more people to understand the message and beyond that, gives people an image of self satisfaction that they think theirselves like “yes, I can understand the message!” Fourth one, overexaggeration. This concept tickles the individual’s sense of homuor and helps making good relation with individual and propagandist. Fifth, orchestrating. It is referring put the elements of propaganda in order to urge people not to understand differently as a result of being individuals but gives the same messages and returns with the same outputs from given every single person in the mass society. Orchestrating keeps the machine work and produces same outputs as parallel with the initial aims.

As a conclusion, the propaganda has to be understood as the two faces of Janus. On the right face, the propaganda has an allegation that informing people and making true opinions on their mind’s but on the other part, the issue is how do the media manage it; by imposing some opinions without given any chance to questioning by whom be addressed. This situation has swayed to more modern definition; PR (Public Relations) but the style of how it conducting is not new at all.


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