Definition, Meaning and Types of Propaganda

Identify Propaganda

Propaganda is dissemination of ideas and information for the purpose of inducing or intensifying specific attitudes and actions. Propaganda is actually and frequently accompanied by distortions of fact and by appeals to passion and prejudice, it is often thought to be invariably false or misleading. Some propagandists may intentionally distort facts others may present it as faithfully as objective observers. The essential distinction lies in the intentions of the propagandist to persuade an audience to adopt the attitude or action he or she, espouses. You can learn  variety of International Relations topics.

Definition and Meaning of Propaganda

Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one’s group.

As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda is often biased, with facts selectively presented (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target

audience to further a political, or other type of agenda. Propaganda can be used as a form of political warfare.

While the term propaganda has acquired a strongly negative connotation by association with its most manipulative and jingoistic examples, propaganda in its original sense was neutral, and could refer to uses that were generally benign or innocuous, such as public health recommendations, signs encouraging citizens to participate in a census or election, or messages encouraging persons to report crimes to the police, among others.

Propaganda is generally an appeal to emotion, not intellect. It shares techniques with advertising and public relations, each of which can be thought of as propaganda that promotes a commercial product or shapes the perception of an organization, person, or brand. In post–World War II usage the word “propaganda” more typically refers to political or nationalist uses of these techniques or to the promotion of a set of ideas, since the term had gained a pejorative meaning. The refusal phenomenon was eventually to be seen in politics itself by the substitution of “political marketing” and other designations for “political propaganda”.

Propaganda was often used to influence opinions and beliefs on religious issues, particularly during the split between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant churches. Propaganda has become more common in political contexts, in particular to refer to certain efforts sponsored by governments, political groups, but also often covert interests. In the early 20th century, propaganda was exemplified in the form of party slogans. Also. in the early 20th century the term propaganda was used by the founders of the nascent public relations industry to describe their activities. This usage died out around the time of World War IIas the industry started to avoid the word, given the pejorative connotation it had acquired.

Literally translated from the Latin gerundive as “things that must be disseminated”, in some cultures the term is neutral or even positive, while in others the term has acquired a strong negative connotation. The connotations of the term “propaganda” can also ‘Vary over time. For example, in Portuguese and some Spanish language speaking countries, particularly in the Southern Cone, the word “propaganda” usually refers to the most common manipulative media — “advertising”.

In English, “propaganda” was originally a neutral term used to describe the dissemination of information in favor of any given cause. During the 20th century, however, the term acquired a thoroughly negative meaning in western countries, representing the intentional dissemination of often false, but certainly “compelling” claims to support or justify political actions or ideologies. This redefinition arose because both the Soviet Union and Germany’s government under Hitler admitted explicitly to using propaganda favoring, respectively, communism and Nazism, in all forms of public expression. As these ideologies were repugnant to liberal western societies, the negative feelings toward them came to be projected into the word “propaganda” itself.

Propaganda may be disseminated by or for individuals, businesses, ethnic associations, religious organizations, political organizations, and governments at every level. Thousands of special-interest groups disseminate propaganda. Among such groups are patriotic and temperance societies, fire-prevention and traffic-safety committees, leagues promoting conservation or the prevention of cruelty to animals, labor unions, and chambers of commerce. Propaganda attempts to persuade through rational or emotional appeal or through the organization of personal opinion.

Techniques of Propaganda

Propagandists use techniques identified by Filene and fellows. You can read complete and detailed article techniques of propaganda.

Assertion. Assertion is commonly used in advertising and modern propaganda. An assertion is an enthusiastic or energetic statement presented as a fact, although it is not necessarily true.

Bandwagon. Bandwagon propaganda is, essentially, trying to convince the subject that one side is the winning side, because more people have joined it.

Card stacking. It involves only presenting information that is positive to an idea or proposal and omitting information contrary to it.

Lesser of Two Evils. The “lesser of two evils” technique tries to convince us of an idea or proposal by presenting it as the least offensive option.

Name Calling. Name calling occurs often in politics and wartime scenarios, but very seldom in advertising. It is the use of derogatory language or words that carry a negative connotation when describing an enemy.

Pinpointing the Enemy. Pinpointing the enemy is used extremely often during wartime, and also in political campaigns and debates. This is an attempt to simplify a complex situation by presenting one specific group or person as the enemy.

Plain Folks. The plain folks device is an attempt by the propagandist to convince the public that his views reflect those of the common person and that they are also working for the benefit of the common person.

Simplification (Stereotyping). Simplification is extremely similar to pinpointing the enemy, in that it often reduces a complex situation to a clear-cut choice involving good and evil. This technique is often useful in swaying uneducated audiences.

Transfer. Transfer is first used by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis in 1938. Transfer is often used ‘in politics and during wartime.

Types of Propaganda

Please read the complete article on 5 different propaganda types in detail. 

Religious Propaganda. One of the earliest uses of the word propaganda was in connection with religious missionary. activity.

Political propaganda. Propaganda for distinctly political ends is as old as history. The Bible, for example, relates that the Assyrian king Sennacherib Kingdom to terrify the Kingdom of Judah into surrendering by the use of threatening propaganda. Julius Caesar wrote De Bello Gallico (On the Gallic War) to enhance his reputation in Rome and to speed his rise to power.

Literary Propaganda. In American literature, an outstanding novel of propaganda is Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) by Harriet Beecher Stowe. By her depiction of black slavery in the South, Stowe contributed to the growth of the abolitionist movement before the American Civil War

Wartime Propaganda. Wartime propaganda is a critical element of military strategy and political success, and it warrants scrutiny by a vigilant public, according to persuasion expert Anthony Pratkanis.

Cold War Propaganda. In the period of the Cold War, a marked conflict of interests between the United States and the Soviet Union following World Warspropaganda continued to be a significant instrument of national policy. Both the democratic and Communist blocs of states attempted by sustained campaigns to win to their side the great masses of uncommitted peoples and thereby ‘achieve their objectives without resorting to armed conflict. Every aspect of national life and policy was exploited for purposes of propaganda.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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