Propaganda Techniques Term Paper

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Propaganda Techniques

Propaganda is one of the most common means used to influence the opinion of the population. In general terms it is not necessarily a negative aspect, but due to the connotations the term was given in the Second World War in particular, the notion came to be viewed as a negative means of creating an opinion for the public or even building up a public opinion.

Despite this evident fact, even today there are aspects of internal policy as well as foreign policy which base their influence on different means of propaganda. The United States as well as every major country in the world tries to create a certain image or view of its intentions by using techniques of propaganda. Taking this aspect into consideration, the present paper addresses the various means through which the public opinion can be influenced, starting from the level of the language up to the actual behavior of the individuals in charge of the propaganda.

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The thesis claim is that propaganda is used to this day with sufficient success. It is not just a matter of Cold War or pre-war usage, but rather one which is contemporary and is being used in order to define or change the perspective in which people come to view a certain event. The case of Iraq is rather relevant for pointing out this issue. The war in the Gulf attracted some of the most important media attention in the last decades particularly because there were forces which tried to focus the attention on the war by pointing out facts and events in such a manner as to create a particular view on the events themselves. Therefore, it can be said that the different techniques of propaganda are used to this day and taking into account the extensive converge of the Iraqi situation and of the impact this subject has had on the masses, the means used to influence the public have been rather successful.

Term Paper on Propaganda Techniques Assignment

The techniques used in propaganda vary. In this sense, they appeal to the psychic of the population or of the targeted public. Therefore, the paper will deal with the discussion over the actual notion of propaganda technique, the techniques themselves, as well as their use today. They all come to prove the fact that despite the negative connotation, propaganda is useful for controlling the crowd and the public opinion.

Indeed, there are many authors and institutions who deal with the issue of propaganda and its use. However, probably the most accredited source in this area is the Institute for Propaganda Analysis. Therefore, the analysis will discuss sources which either develop information provided by the Institute or present them individually. The research material is rather important particularly for a subject which deals with a controversial matter. Therefore, sources that develop on the particularities of the techniques of propaganda will also be used in the analysis.

Propaganda techniques

Definitions for the term are rather straight forward. In this sense, they can be defined as "methods and approaches used to spread ideas that further a cause - a political, commercial, religious, or civil cause (used) to manipulate the readers' or viewers' reason and emotions; to persuade you to believe in something or someone, buy an item, or vote a certain way" (Cuesta College, n.d.). Therefore, the first consideration of the term underlines the aim of communication. In this sense, propaganda is generally used to try to influence a stated opinion in the conditions in which this opinion is clearly defined. Knowing the trend of the opinion of a certain aspect is essential because it represents the means through which the certain type of technique is used.

Another definition of the term includes "an improper appeal to emotion used for the purpose of swaying the opinions of an audience" (Gill, 1993). This perception of the notion however, unlike the previous one underlines the negative aspect of the use of propaganda. More precisely, as stated before, the term found itself in an entrenched idea with negative connotations. Therefore, from this point-of-view it is essential to consider that from the very start there is a negative outlook on the idea of propaganda.

The history of the use of propaganda is widely known for the Nazi and the Soviet propaganda. In order to spread the ideas of the Nazi creed and the beliefs of the Soviet conduct, they made use of the techniques that were later considered to be the most important ones. This is why the Institute for Propaganda Analysis generalized them. Today even, they are still available and they are applicable to the current conditions of the global politics conducted at the highest level.

The first technique used in propaganda is "name calling." Thus "the name-calling technique links a person, or idea, to a negative symbol. The propagandist who uses this technique hopes that the audience will reject the person or the idea on the basis of the negative symbol, instead of looking at the available evidence" (Propaganda Critic, n.d.). In this sense, the most important aspect to be underlined is the fact that there is a symbol with which a current situation can be identified.

At the same time, the person or the institution using this technique appeals to the public who is either unaware of the area of discussion or it does not have the necessary information to put in doubt the information provided through the propagandistic means. Finally, the persons using this technique must also use the particular symbols a society is sensitive to in order to ensure that the aim of the propagandistic process is reached.

One example in the contemporary world is the way in which the U.S. approached the issue of the war in Iraq. At the time of the intervention in Afghanistan, the U.S. public was not too much familiar with the term of terrorism or terrorist. However, by the time of the invasion of Iraq, they knew precisely the threat they pose and the fact that terrorism represented the most important threat to the national security. This belief was achieved also through name calling. In this sense, among the most common words used to influence the public opinion are "commie, fascist, pig, yuppie, bum, queer, terrorist" (Propaganda Critic, n.d.). While the first words were used particularly during the Cold War, the last one determines very precisely a situation which in the end is associated with the worst threat to the national security. Thus, the National Security Strategy has constantly used the term in relation to the Iraqi intervention, in a context that would suggest the fact that the intervention in itself was justified precisely by the existence of "terrorism."

However, it is rather hard to actually believe the idea especially due to the fact that there is no generally acknowledged definition of the term. The fact that the U.S. has constantly used this term to determine the priorities of the war on terror has determined a wide initial support for the intervention in Iraq. This has been achieved without any prior knowledge or education of the public. However, the fact that the opinion changed in time comes to prove the fact that there is no actual guarantee of the effects of propaganda, in the conditions in which the society, regardless of its nationality has access to information and can look into the initial information provided by the state.

The second technique is the use of glittering generalities. In this sense, it is important to have in mind two ideas. On the one hand, the society must be based on certain values the population knows about such as basic values and moral aspects. On the other hand, the society and the targeted public must, above all, be interested in the idea the propaganda users try to promote. Thus, the use of glittering generalities refers to the use of texts such as "we believe in, fight for, live by virtue words about which we have deep-set ideas. Such words include civilization, Christianity, good, proper, right, democracy, patriotism, motherhood, fatherhood, science, medicine, health, and love" (Propaganda Critic, n.d.). Indeed, these are general aspects which cannot be properly defined yet they are entrenched n the history and civilization of a particular nation.

This technique can be said to have been applied in the attempt to rally support for the war in Iraq. The propaganda machine in the State Department appealed to the democratic background of the nation in order to create the sense of unity against an enemy called "terrorist." Therefore, on the one hand, they denigrated the enemy and in general the Muslim world, and on the other hand, it tried to create a united front against it, a unity achieved in the name of certain common values. However, while the population may have one understanding of the notion democracy or human rights, the Administration may have another one. From this point on, there can be a shift in the support given to the practice of the Administration by opposing it; at the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Propaganda Techniques" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Propaganda Techniques.  (2008, June 10).  Retrieved November 24, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Propaganda Techniques."  10 June 2008.  Web.  24 November 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Propaganda Techniques."  June 10, 2008.  Accessed November 24, 2020.