How Propaganda Works

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Princeton University Press, May 26, 2015 - Political Science - 376 pages
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Our democracy today is fraught with political campaigns, lobbyists, liberal media, and Fox News commentators, all using language to influence the way we think and reason about public issues. Even so, many of us believe that propaganda and manipulation aren't problems for us—not in the way they were for the totalitarian societies of the mid-twentieth century. In How Propaganda Works, Jason Stanley demonstrates that more attention needs to be paid. He examines how propaganda operates subtly, how it undermines democracy—particularly the ideals of democratic deliberation and equality—and how it has damaged democracies of the past.

Focusing on the shortcomings of liberal democratic states, Stanley provides a historically grounded introduction to democratic political theory as a window into the misuse of democratic vocabulary for propaganda's selfish purposes. He lays out historical examples, such as the restructuring of the US public school system at the turn of the twentieth century, to explore how the language of democracy is sometimes used to mask an undemocratic reality. Drawing from a range of sources, including feminist theory, critical race theory, epistemology, formal semantics, educational theory, and social and cognitive psychology, he explains how the manipulative and hypocritical declaration of flawed beliefs and ideologies arises from and perpetuates inequalities in society, such as the racial injustices that commonly occur in the United States.

How Propaganda Works shows that an understanding of propaganda and its mechanisms is essential for the preservation and protection of liberal democracies everywhere.

 

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HOW PROPAGANDA WORKS

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

An academic analysis of the ways in which propaganda still functions and influences ideology in contemporary society. The concept of propaganda seems to be an anachronism. Or, as Stanley (Philosophy ... Read full review

Contents

The Problem of Propaganda
1
1 Propaganda in the History of Political Thought
27
2 Propaganda Defined
39
3 Propaganda in Liberal Democracy
81
4 Language as a Mechanism of Control
125
5 Ideology
178
6 Political Ideologies
223
A Case Study
269
Conclusion
292
Acknowledgments
295
Notes
305
Bibliography
335
Index
347
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About the author (2015)

Jason Stanley is the Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. He is the author of Knowledge and Practical Interests, Language in Context, and Know How.

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