What is Propaganda?


The term Propaganda is a mode of communication used to influence or manipulate the opinion of groups to support a particular belief and cause.

It is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda. It uses loaded language to cause an emotional rather than rational response to the information that is being presented.

Propaganda is used to manipulate the opinion of groups to support a cause that may not be objective and may be presenting evidence selectively to encourage a particular perception.

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It is often interconnected with material prepared by governments. However, religious organizations, companies, the media, activists, and individuals can also produce Propaganda.

Over the centuries, Propaganda has taken the form of films, artwork, speeches, and music. However, it is not limited to these forms of communication. The new media age has given rise to new ways of disseminating Propaganda, for example, spreading biased or fake news using social media. Also, through the use of algorithms to create computational Propaganda.

A person involved in spreading or producing Propaganda is called a Propagandist. Propagandists seek to change the way people understand a situation or an issue to change their expectations and actions in ways that are desirable to the interest group.

In this sense, Propaganda serves as a consequence of dissimulation in which the same purpose is achieved by preventing people from being approached with opposing points of view.

What separates Propaganda from other forms of boosterism is the willingness of the propagandist to change people’s understanding through confusion and deception. Propagandists use persuasion and understanding to change people’s understanding.

The administrators of an organization know the information to be untrue or one-sided, but this may not be true for the file members and rank who help to disseminate the Propaganda.

Table of Contents

Types of Propaganda

1. Religious Propaganda

Propaganda was often used to influence beliefs and opinions on religious issues, particularly during the split between the Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church. This was actually the first type of Propaganda.

Missionaries have been working for a long time to recruit others to their respective faiths, whether it’s through pamphlets, broadcast media, posters, or face-to-face communications. Religious Propaganda is also used to shed more light on words like ethical issues and particular morals, including the controversy over religion in schools and abortion.

Religious Propaganda is used widely in the debates about new religious movements (NRMs), both by people who oppose them and people who defend them. The people who opposed the NRMs called them cults and made the NRMs look bad without sufficient reasons.

2. War Propaganda

War propaganda was introduced during World War I and was considered profound to the success of the war effort. Both Germany and Great Britain used Propaganda to win U.S. support.

Germany had been trying to gather the sympathies of U.S. citizens of German descent but was lop off from communicating directly with the American public. Correspondingly, sympathy for Great Britain took over, and support for the war effort orient accordingly.

Propaganda is a powerful weapon in war. It is used to imbrute and create disgust toward a supposed enemy, either external or internal, by creating a false notion in the mind of citizens and soldiers.

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This can be done by using racist or derogatory terms, for example, the racist terms gook and Jap used during the Vietnam War and World War II. Also, by avoiding some language or words or by making allegations of enemy crimes.

The goal of making allegations of enemy crimes is to abash the opponent into thinking what was being projected was actually true. Most propaganda travails in wartime require the home population to feel the enemy has inflicted an injustice, which may be based on facts or fictitious. For example, when the German Navy sank the passenger ship of RMS Lusitania in World War I.

Also, the home population must also believe that the cause of their nation in the war is fair. In these actions, it was difficult to determine the accuracy of how Propaganda truly impacted the war.

In NATO doctrine, Propaganda refers to “Information, especially of a misleading or biased  nature, used to give publicity to a political cause or point of view.” Within this perspective, the information provided does not need to be necessarily false but must be instead relevant to specific goals of the system or actor that performs it.

Propaganda is also one of the procedures used in psychological warfare, which may also involve flawed flag operations. In this situation, the identity of the operatives is depicted as those of an enemy nation, for example, when The Bay of Pigs invasion used CIA planes painted in Cuban Air Force markings.

Propaganda may also be seen as false information meant to reinforce the viewpoint of people who already believe as the propagandist wishes. An example of this was during World War I, where the main purpose of British Propaganda was to encourage women to work in the country’s industry and men to join the army.

During that time, propaganda posters were used because TVs and radios were not very common. The presumption is that, if people believe something false, they will constantly be assailed by uncertainty. Since these doubts are unpleasant, people will be eager to have them erased and are therefore responsive to the reassurances of those in power.

The term propaganda is often addressed to people who are already supportive of the views or agenda being presented. This process of reinforcement uses an individual’s proneness to self-select agreeable information sources as a means for maintaining control over populations.

3. Advertisement Propaganda

Propaganda shares techniques with public relations and advertising, each of which can be thought of as Propaganda that shapes the perception of a person, brand, or organization.

Also, it promotes a commercial product. The journalistic theory basically holds that news items should be objective, giving the reader a review of the subject at hand and accurate background.

Advertisements have evolved from traditional commercial advertisements to also include a new type in the form of broadcasts or paid articles disguised as news.

These typically present an issue in a very irrational and often misleading light. Also, it was primarily meant to persuade rather than inform. In addition, Subtle propaganda techniques are mostly used in traditional commercial advertisements.

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If a reader presumes that a paid advertisement is, in fact, a news item, then the message that the advertiser is trying to pass along will be more easily internalized or believed. Such advertisements are considered clear examples of covert Propaganda.

This is because such advertisements take on the form of objective information rather than the form of Propaganda, which can be misleading. Federal law particularly instructed that if any advertisement appears in the format of a news item, it must state that the item is, in fact, a paid advertisement.

4. Political Propaganda

The term Propaganda has become more common in political contexts, most especially when we are referring to certain efforts sponsored by political groups, governments. Also, it is often covert interests.

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Propaganda was symbolized in the form of party slogans during the early 20th century.

The term Propaganda also has much in common with public information campaigns by governments, which are intended to discourage or encourage certain forms of behaviour. Public information campaigns such as not smoking, wearing seat belts, not littering, and so forth. Also, the emphasis is more political in Propaganda.

Techniques of Propaganda

1. Bandwagon Propaganda

As human beings, we have this natural desire to fit in. And that’s exactly the kind of follow-the-herd mentality this technique follows. Propagandists, like some advertisers, try to convince the audience that it is almost too late to join the organization, to take advantage of the offer to get on the bandwagon.

Bandwagon propaganda is all about inducing the target audience to take action. It is about creating a desire amongst people to become a part of the in crowd.

Advertisers typically use phrases like trending now or join the crowd for their services and products to enforce such a feeling. The propagandists tend to copy this style of creating an urge in the people.

The history of the word bandwagon gives us a clue to the basic in-tent behind the appeal. In previous centuries, when the circus came to town, part of the razzmatazz used to attract customers was the circus parade along the main street. The first wagon in the parade always carried the band.

Being on the bandwagon became synonymous with being a leader the person who was out in front of an idea or a fashion. During World War II, propaganda posters stressed that everyone needed to be involved in the war effort.

2. Card Stacking Propaganda

This technique of Propaganda is perhaps most popularly used. Card Stacking Propaganda involves the intentional omission of certain facts to fool the target audience.

The term card stacking emerged from gambling and occurred when a player tries to stack decks in his or her favour. A similar doctrine is commonly used by companies to make their products appear better than they actually are.

Most brands use the card stacking propaganda technique to lessen unsavoury details about their services and products. For instance, some companies may cleverly cover hidden charges and only talk about the benefits of their services and products.

3. Plain Folks Propaganda

The technique is used by propagandists to persuade the audience that the public groups or figures they represent are not well trained, manipulative but are just plain folks like you and me.

Politicians are using this device when they put on work boots and bib overalls and carry a red bandanna to meet with countryside audiences.

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Sometimes, the plain folks technique is as simple as using a common language to appeal to the audience. The technique might take the form of plain, everyday actions such as driving a tractor or splitting wood. This technique uses pretence to create identification between the receiver and the source.

In addition, the sources referred to in this technique are not plain folks at all. Instead, they are trying to influence the audience into following their call through a false feeling of kinship. They try to communicate that the spokesperson or candidate is of the people even though that might not be true at all.

4. Testimonial Propaganda

Testimonial propaganda is a popular device in today’s world of advertising. The technique that uses celebrity or renowned figures to endorse services and products.

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In this case, when a celebrity or renowned figure vouches for something, the viewers are likely to take account of the popularity or credibility of that person. This boosts the credibility of that particular brand. 

5. Glittering Generalities Propaganda

Glittering generalities is a propaganda technique where the propagandists use vague statements to influence the audience. Also, the propagandist can use emotional appeal to influence the audience too.

Advertising agencies, therefore, use phrases like to kick-start your day or inspiring you from within or to create positive anecdotes.

Phrases like this make the product look more appealing and result in better sales. To achieve better results, brands may use lyrical phrases, metaphors, or hyperboles to attract more attention.

6. Name-Calling Propaganda

Name-calling propaganda is the other side of glittering generalities. It uses words that have highly negative connotations to smear a group or person. The technique involves using derogatory phrases to create a negative opinion about some other brand or someone.

However, the brand may also speak negatively about an idea. For example, a company that sells plant-based products may talk about how cruel it is to kill animals. As a result of this, they may also condemn fast-food chain businesses.

Let’s see this example also; we might call a particular religious group a bunch of zealous, fanatical Jesus freaks to demonize or even marginalize them. During World War II, the Japanese were called nips or Japs, and Germans were called heinies, krauts, or huns,.

In addition, during the Vietnam and  Korean wars, the enemies were called slants, gooks, Charlies, or slopes. The people give these names to the enemies to reduce them to the level of brutes with apelike behaviour and low intelligence.

7. Transfer Propaganda

This is a technique of Propaganda that projects certain qualities (which can either be negative or positive) of an ideology, person, or object to other things and people. Transfer propaganda uses many different symbols to achieve a pleasing outcome

The Propaganda also resembles a testimonial or an endorsement in that the credibility of the endorser transfers to the product. For example, In international politics, Saddam Hussein was compared to Hitler, and Hitler‘s negative qualities are being transferred to the Iraqi dictator.

In Conclusion

We hope this detailed guide has provided us with enough insight on the techniques, types, and what Propaganda itself is all about.

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