In this article we will discuss about Propaganda. After reading this article you will learn about: 1. Meaning of Propaganda 2. Definition of Propaganda 3. Need 4. Kinds 5. Principles 6. Techniques 7. Conditions of Effective Propaganda.
- Meaning of Propaganda
- Definition of Propaganda
- Need for Propaganda
- Kinds of Propaganda
- Principles of Propaganda
- Techniques of Propaganda
- Conditions of Effective Propaganda
1. Meaning of Propaganda:
Propaganda is essentially a technique of controlling attitude and it assumes greatest historical significance when carried on in a systematic manner over a long period of time by well organised groups. Its presence and practical importance is felt at every moment of human life.
The word propaganda is derived from the Latin word. “Propagate” which means to generate or to reproduce in an artificial manner. This suggests that propaganda does not take place in itself spontaneously. It has to be produced or generated by someone.
The emphasis is, therefore, on forced generalization and there is always a definite motive or purpose in mind behind any and every propaganda. Every political party, every religion, every business organisation adopts certain methods either through advertisement, personal efforts or through public meetings to spread their own beliefs, attitudes, views, faiths or norms.
Thus, propaganda always aims at moulding people’s attitudes and behaviour in the direction of the propagandist by impressing upon the mass through various methods, techniques and strategies.
Prof. Friedrick in his book “The Propaganda Menace” states that propaganda is promotion which is veiled in one way or another regarding:
(i) Its origin and success
(ii) Regarding the interests involved
(iii) The method employed
(iv) The content spread
(v) The results accruing to the victims.
From this point of view all propaganda is bad.
The term propaganda has historically acquired a bad reputation and is mostly used in a negative sense as the propagandists try to control the press, the radio, the motion picture and other modern electronic media and ultimately the mass through their tactic efforts. At the time of election the different political parties try not only to change attitude, but also to control the action of people.
They try to draw the vote of people by various propaganda, some of which may be baseless and misleading. Since every propaganda has some motive and individual interest underlying it, people look at it often with raised eyebrows.
Thus, even in modern days there is a tendency to attach a mild stigma to the word propaganda. This suspicion is due to the awareness of people of an ulterior motive behind any propaganda or for that matter advertisement.
Sometimes educated independent minded people think that individuals should make their decisions by themselves uninfluenced by any kind of persuasion, pressure or fear. This very feeling also developed an aversion for propaganda.
When a new product reaches or is about to reach the market, the company tries to attract the attention of the consumers from other products to their new products through various means like advertisement in newspapers, radio, TV, by giving lots of prizes and free gifts and also through door to door campaigns.
The whole idea and purpose behind propaganda is to draw the attention of people, change attitudes and beliefs and control their behaviour in a mass scale. According to Fredrick, all propaganda is bad. It is unsocial because it “dwarfs the critical faculties, engenders fear and suspicion and produces intellectual slavery.”
2. Definition of Propaganda:
Numbley holds that propaganda means forced generation with a definite end in mind. Young defines propaganda as the propagation of ideas, opinions and the attitudes and the real purpose of which is not being clear to the hearer or the reader.
In this definition of Young two points appear to be significant:
(i) Propagation of ideas and opinions
(ii) The ultimate purpose is not explicit in the propagation or is not directly known to the hearer or reader. But in propaganda, most of the persons can read the mind of the propagandist and can know the ulterior motive behind it if they have some commonsense.
According to Doob “Propaganda is a systematic attempt by interested individuals to control the attitudes of groups of individuals through the use of suggestions and consequently to control their action.”
Hence he has emphasised that:
(i) Propaganda is systematically attempted
(ii) Human behaviour, attitude and actions are controlled through propaganda. Thirdly, he says, propagation of ideas takes place through the use of suggestions. Thus, in an organised and systematic manner through the use of various techniques of suggestion propaganda is made with the sole purpose to control action, attitude and behaviour indirectly.
Doob further says on the nature of propaganda that those who are highly influenced by the techniques used by a particular propagandist show very uncritical, unreasonable and irrational response. A successful propagandist hypnotises the entire behaviour, action and mental set of a person. The individual in question completely looses his normal faculty of judging things rightly and judiciously.
Propaganda has also been explained more or less deliberately planned with systematic use of symbols mainly through suggestion and related psychological techniques. The purpose in first to modify and control opinions, ideas, values and beliefs and finally to change action along with predetermined lines.
(a) propaganda is well planned and properly organised
(b) Propaganda is affected by suggestion
(c) Propaganda is not done directly, but in a symbolic form like in advertisements of various products
(d) The sole purpose of propaganda is to change and control the public opinion and convert the actions in the desired line.
The public opinion pool on various TV serials based on the opinion of a few hundred or thousand viewers or the opinion pool on the probability of winning of some parties in the ensuing election and articles published on the chances of winning of individuals members by the mass medias are examples of this kind.
From the above discussions, it emerges that:
(i) The propagandist seeks to influence people’s beliefs and attitudes and thereby their actions.
(ii) The specific beliefs and attitudes which the propagandist seeks to induce are ordinarily not valuable or socially desirable in their own right, but because the propagandist has self interest or some ulterior motive in his mind, he tries to show that it is valuable and socially desirable.
3. Need for Propaganda:
Propaganda is an important aspect in our living. It cannot be eliminated and no one can completely withdraw from it. Inspite of the stigma attached to the concept of propaganda, it has a lot of practical importance. Propaganda cannot be said to be only commercial or religious or political.
Propaganda is necessary to bring social change to eradicate social evils, poverty and illiteracy. Propaganda is essential for eradication of social evils like dowry, child marriage, gender, bias and prejudice towards minority groups, SC and ST and socially and economically disadvantaged persons.
To build casteless and classless societies, propaganda in the right direction is essential. To make people aware about certain diseases, like T.B., Cancer, Leprosy and AIDS etc. to reduce infant mortality rates, to make people conscious of the fruits of prohibition, to increase production level, shift the urban based attitude of people to rural based, propaganda is undoubtedly needed.
Therefore, we find that accident prevention weeks, leprosy eradication weeks, international women years, children’s day, drug and AIDS prevention weeks, and many other prevention weeks of this type are observed where people go in procession on the roads with plackards, banners, posters and shout slogans to draw the attention of people.
Radios and TVs. broadcast and telecast respectively various propaganda related materials to increase the consciousness of people and change their attitude.
These types of propaganda are not based on ulterior and selfish motives and hence cannot be said to have bad aims. They are, indeed, essential for the progress and prosperity of the society and mankind. Thus, it is found that only through propaganda, the idea of democracy, the dreams of our planners, social reformers and policy makers can be made known to the public.
The economic policy of the country, the successful implementations of various welfare programmes, projects, saving and investment schemes and policies, especially planned for the upliftment of the poor, down trodden and minority groups can be made public only through propaganda, similarly, the mode of operation of democracy, the general programme of action of the Government should be extensively propagated in public interest.
So, there is tremendous need to adopt propaganda on a number of social issues and social problems. Propaganda should not be selfish interest and personal motive based and should not be confusing. It should be crystal clear, transparent and not misleading so that the public will not have the scope for a grain of suspicion.
Propaganda should not be linked with any kind of fear, pressure or favour. Propaganda should not be imposed and it should not prevent open mindedness. It should not pressurize people to accept the suggestion of others blindly. The other side of the issue should also be intimated to people while making a propaganda.
4. Kinds of Propaganda:
Propaganda may be classified into:
(i) Direct and Indirect
(ii) Primary and Secondary
(iii) Conscious and Unconscious.
(i) Direct Propaganda:
In direct propaganda, the public is aware of the purpose of the propagandist for instance, propaganda campaigns taken up by Government or voluntary, social organizations on family planning, Prohibition, literacy, women’s welfare, dowryless marriage, education for all, saving schemes, national integration, health care and protection from infectious diseases.
All these come under the category of direct propaganda. Here the purpose of propaganda is very clear and devoid of ulterior motive. People are aware of the objective of propaganda and it is transparent.
a. Indirect Propaganda:
Indirect propaganda refers to that type where people are not aware of the objective and purpose of the propaganda. It is concealed. The propagandists in this technique try to change the views, ideas, beliefs and attitudes of people in a very tactful and subtle manner as per their desire.
The national sentiments of patriotism is aroused among the fellow countrymen by national leaders during wartime for national integration. The purpose behind such propaganda is to persuade more and more people to join the army, to save the country through the arousal of patriotism.
(ii) Primary and Secondary Propaganda:
The propagandist tries to investigate and excite the attitudes and prejudices that already exist through primary propaganda. The tension between the Hindu and the Muslim, the upper caste and the lower caste, the Thakurs and the backward classes continues from the past into the present.
Kashmir problem may be a brilliant example in this regard. The tension between the Hindus and the Muslims provide a special advantage to the Azad Kashmir is to revolt and to take recourse to war and militancy. In secondary propaganda, however, no previous attitude, belief, prejudice or mental set is present. Through propaganda new tendencies and thoughts are set in the minds of people.
(iii) Conscious and Unconscious Propaganda:
Conscious propaganda is done purposefully and with some intention like propaganda made for a particular political party at the time of election.
But in unconscious propaganda, the propagandist has no intention to propagate something. It appears accidentally and unknowingly.
5. Principles of Propaganda:
Most of the techniques of propaganda are exploited and derived from the principles of propaganda. The technical requirement for effective propaganda is dependent on thorough understanding of the principles involved.
Large number of psychologists stand divided in their opinion regarding the principles of propaganda. Among various principles developed, the classification put forward by Doob is noteworthy.
Doob has developed some principles of propaganda:
(i) Intentional and Unintentional Propaganda:
Apparently distinction between intentional and unintentional propaganda is not very clear and real. But Doob says in intentional propaganda, the propagandist is aware of the ends and aims for which he takes recourse to propaganda. He has a clear view of the purpose which is crystalized perceptually.
In an election, the propagandist wants to secure as many votes as possible for his candidate. This indicates his clear intention behind the propaganda. In case of advertisement the principles of propaganda are also intentional.
But in case of unintentional propaganda, the individual unknowingly and incidentally influences peoples’ beliefs and attitudes to achieve an aim. Here the intention is clouded and imperceptible.
When a man in an informal get together is habitually or incidentally taking about the good qualities of a person on the eve of election for which he is a candidate, it is an instance of unintentional propaganda, usually the advertising agencies or a particular political party are aware of the propaganda objective whereas the house wives or the respectable school teachers are rather blissfully ignorant of the propaganda objective. But people somehow achieve the respective ends by both the methods.
In the modern age, which is said by some as the age of advertisement instead of directly saying that it is good or such shampoo or cold drink is excellent, they indirectly say these nice things through a character, which of course indirectly proves the intention. One may say avoid white hair, instead of saying use this hair dye to make your hair black.
In sum, the intentional propagandist deliberately attempts to affect or control the behaviour of a group of individuals while the unintentional propagandist unwittingly does so. Of course, the unintentional propagandist occupies a position in the society which enables him to have greater access to the media of communication. However, no rigid differences between the intentional and unintentional propaganda exist.
Perception as a principle of propaganda suggests that the object of propaganda should have a clear out line in cognitive and perceptual field of the people. It should be understood, felt, heard and seen by the people. Propaganda cannot be successful and effective in a vacuum. It should be strictly displayed so that it can readily catch the attention of people.
Propaganda, in other words should be made attractive visually, auditarily and cognitively. At the time of election, the qualities of a candidate should be categorically and clearly differentiated from the other rival candidate for the sake of comparison and favourable attitude towards the person in question. The slogans and visuals should be as catchy as possible.
(iii) Types of Propaganda:
Dood has mentioned three types of propaganda such as:
(a) Revealed propaganda
(b) Delayed Revealed Propaganda
(c) Concealed Propaganda.
Types of propaganda may refer to the motive of the propagandist, the methods he employs, the recognition and nonrecognition of his objectives and the consequences of his propaganda.
(a) Revealed Propaganda:
In his propaganda, the propagandist offers suggestions to people. It is quite clear and perceptible. In revealed propaganda the intention of the propagandist is quite clear. Take the example of the propaganda made during elections, in various advertisement of goods etc.
(b) Delayed Revealed Propaganda:
In delayed revealed propaganda, the intention of the propagandist does not show up immediately. The whole purpose and intention is revealed after a good deal of time while the ground for propaganda has already been prepared. During war time, this sort of delayed revealed propaganda is much used.
The emphasis is given on the recruitment of as many soldiers as possible, by arousing the feeling of nationality, patriotism and similar other sentiments. This delayed revealed propaganda is often effective because of its dramatic appeal.
(c) Concealed Propaganda:
Human intelligence can make propaganda invisible and concealed. Birth day, death anniversary or centinary of distinguished and great sons and daughters of the soil are celebrated where references are made to their ideology, life style, sacrifices and achievements. Even in these types of celebrations there is a seed of propaganda.
Various political parties and high dignitaries get a scope to talk of the ideals, achievements, purposes and aims of their party during these celebrations and try to make political capital out of it. In such propaganda, the motive is not directly or clearly seen. Pictures and documentaries to indicate the contributions of the party in power and progresses and prosperity of the people are examples of concealed propaganda.
But intelligent and enlightened people catch the underlying motive in such propaganda. Concealed propaganda affects people even though they do not know that someone else is intentionally or unintentionally seeking to control their reactions.
(iv) Related Attitude:
The attitudes of people remain in a closely knit pattern. One attitude is related to the other and different altitudes remain in an integrated whole. They never remain isolated. In propaganda, all types of reinforcements are provided to tap the nationalistic sentiments of people. Since attitudes are related when one attitude is tapped, the other attitudes related to it are also tapped.
For instance, you persuade people to buy Khadi dress to provide support to Swadeshi movement and at the same time you say that it is very cheap, economical and durable compared to other clothes. This definitely taps different related attitudes of a person.
Thus, propaganda should be made in such a way that instead of changing one attitude, the purpose should be to change other attitudes related to it, so that the propaganda can have a stronger effect.
(v) Integration of Attitude:
From the above, follows the “integration of attitude”. If you try to arouse or evoke a number of attitudes and if they live in an integrated structure, propaganda will be further effective. Thus, the propagandist should not only attempt to evoke or arouse a particular attitude, but also a host of related attitudes which are integrated as reinforcements for shaping that particular attitude.
(vi) Prestige Suggestion:
Some people, because of their knowledge, education, reasoning ability and several other personality factors are less prone to suggestion. Inspite of several and different techniques of propaganda, they stick to their views and rarely change. In such circumstances prestige suggestion is used as a principle of propaganda.
Prominent people with prestige, good name and popularity persuade people to accept their views.
Persuasion is of four types:
(a) Personal persuasion
(b) Emotional persuasion
(c) Persuasion in the form of suggestions and
(d) Persuasion by using foul means i.e., intimidation like “If you do not give vote in favour of ‘X’, you will suffer the consequences.”
In this type of persuasion, the propagandist tries to change the attitude of people by physical force and threats.
6. Techniques of Propaganda:
In 1937, Clyde Miller started an Institute of Propaganda Analysis at New York. It was established before the last world war as a non-profit corporation for scientific research in methods used by the propagandist in influencing public opinion. The purpose of this organisation was to make the public immune from propaganda and make them think and behave more rationally.
The purpose of the Institute of Propaganda Analysis was less literary and impressionistic than most of the other reports of propaganda which were being published at the time. It is a great practical problem as how to protect people from the clutches of unnecessary and bad propaganda.
This problem is also of great concern to social psychologists, sociologists, educators and propagandists as well. In this background, the institute of propaganda analysis has changed the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of many people and the buying habits of the consumers.
It is, however, a reality that propaganda has been much engraved in our daily life and it is hardly possible to get rid of it. As long as certain needs and demands of people remain unsatisfied, propaganda is sure to attract the attention of people and no one can prevent them or make people free from propaganda.
Both, Prof. Lumby and the Institute of Propaganda Analysis, focus attention on some methods of techniques used in propaganda. These methods or techniques of propaganda like name calling, distortion, fabrication and tricks generally used by the propagandists are regarded as bad.
But they are the usual techniques used. The Institute of Propaganda Analysis has classified certain broad techniques of propaganda which were widely prevalent throughout America at that time.
The following techniques of propaganda widely used are discussed below:
(i) Name Calling Device:
Clyde has observed that the propagandist by scolding the opponent or telling ugly things against the rival, diminishes the strength of the rival party or opponent. People of one political party speaking unfavourable things against the rival political party is a common scene during elections.
The name calling device often degenerates into sily abuses and unhealthy personal attacks. If in an anti fascist society one is called Nazi i.e., a fascist, he is, at once, thoroughly disreputed.
Similarly, in a very honest and clean society where people give utmost importance to honesty if a person is alleged as corrupt, he gets a bad name. Some political parties in India propagate that one should not give vote to BJP, as it is a communal party and by this, try to get the vote of the minority communities of India.
Name calling of this type are very much observed on the eve of political propaganda. Some men say that communists do not believe on God. If you bring them to power, they will destroy and demolish all the temples.
(ii) Plain Folk Appeal:
Some people who generally keep themselves aloof from the public, take part in large number of public activities at the time of election. Their participation is meant to touch the sentiments of the public.
By creating a healthy atmosphere and cordial relation between the public and the propagandist, they make themselves appear as ordinary people, like eating midday meal or lunch along with the children in remote rural school or eating dal and chapati with the poor folk sitting on the floor.
They visit the cottage of villagers, sit on the floor and eat their food. It is a tactics to appeal the common folk and reach nearer to their heart. Sometimes, as the election draws nearer great people, big people and the so called dignified people never seen for last several years, in a fine morning mix with any sort of people in a very informal manner for their selfish interest.
Thus, in plain folk appeal technique, an appeal is made to the plain folk concept of the public as the people have a tendency to adopt the folk ways.
(iii) Glittering Generalisation:
Certain slogans, high sounding attractive words are used by the propagandist to touch the mind of the audience and carry it with them. Sometimes such words and slogans are so misleading and confusing that one cannot make any real sense out of it.
Slogans like “vote a man with a heart and a party with a soul” or “for peace, prosperity and welfare of mankind” “for communal harmony, national integration and international welfare” or “to maintain the sovereignty of India”, “to maintain stability and free from external aggression”, “to remove corruption”, “all human purposes are rotten, every cause conceals a latest crookedness” etc. are extremely catchy.
With the help of these slogans, a situation is created in which identification of genuine values becomes impossible. All the different slogans are mere generalisations. Though they are catchy at the outset, actually these slogans are superficial and meant only to create a conflicting situation.
(iv) Testimony or Suggestion:
This technique makes use of prestige suggestion so that people who are not very critical are influenced by this type of propaganda.
(v) Card Stacking:
This term has a colloqueal origin. It refers to outright invention, suppression or distortion of facts in the interest of some selfish end. Facts are twisted, moulded to suit one’s own view.
Card stacking involves the selection of use of facts or false hoods, illustrations and distractions, logical and illogical statements in order to give the best or the worst possible case for an idea, programme, or product. In other words, wild rumours are spread against the opponent party.
All types of falsifications, illogical statements and distortions are made to mislead the public. In the distortion technique plain lies often work admirably atleast for the time being. The Pakistan press, radio, TV media always try to project that India is making atom bombs and military preparations and this is a real threat to the sovereignty and independence of Pakistan.
Also other medias of communication including opinion pools not based on correct sampling and large number cases try to spread false news and distort beliefs and attitudes of public.
In industrial conflicts newspapers unfriendly to labour unions may conceal the real facts and grievances of the labourers that actually prompted the strike. Instead, a newspaper may emphasize the unruly and rough behaviour of the employees towards the employers. In most of the industrial strikes the employers take hold of the mass media so that the grievances of the employees are not publicized.
Thus, the employees fail to gain the sympathy of the public and even of the other employees elsewhere and completely opposite reaction in the public is noticed. In card stacking technique, there is one sided propaganda. This method of propaganda is immoral and misleading, but extensively used at all levels of propaganda and in the national and international field.
(vi) Band Wagon Effect:
It is the general tendency of people to go by the majority opinion particularly because majority opinion has the power of suggestions. They do not consider the merit of the case or issue in question. They think that since the majority of the people are doing it, the action must be correct. The tendency to be with the victorious side leads to the success of the band wagon technique.
Particularly weak and mild with vasilating and fluid nature usually go with the majority opinion. During election time, the Band Wagon technique is extensively used for making propaganda a success. By saying “everybody, atleast all of us are doing it”, the propagandist attempt to convince all the members of a group.
Some social psychologists have noted that the propagandist tries to create the illusion or impression of university. It is well known that few people like to be with the minority unless that is supposed to be an important way to make for the social cause or for maintaining the culture.
In this connection the example of the Austrians surrendering to the Germany because of the “whispering campaign” of Goielire, a minister of Germany is noteworthy.
Findings of a number of studies support the band wagon technique as an effective method of propaganda. The view that most persons change their opinion and attitude in the direction of what they believe to be the majority sentiment rather than in the direction of the expert judgement, is found to be correct.
By going with the majority opinion one gets social security and is accepted by others in the view of Karen Horaey and Errich Fom. When ideas and beliefs are shared by a large number of persons in the society one gets a sense of relief. In Lewins term it reduces one’s tension. The sense of personal safety is enhanced by going over to the majority side.
7. Conditions of Effective Propaganda:
To be effective, propaganda presupposes certain conditions. The Institute of Propaganda Analysis in New York has attempted to analyse the conditions of effective propaganda. It observes that propaganda can be effective if the issues before the public are emotional, political and socioeconomic. Bad techniques to propaganda ideas and doctrines should be avoided.
Doob never considered that propaganda is factually accurate or logically adequate. Doob has attempted to give some conditions for effective propaganda.
They are discussed below:
(1) Devices should be employed to make possible clear perception of the objects of propaganda. A clear selection and use of all available channels of communication is desirable. Ideas should be placed in attractive surroundings. Expressions should be made in a simple language and should be repeated.
(2) Direct and indirect suggestions should be used to make propaganda effective.
(3) Methods should be adopted to appeal the interest, attitude and beliefs of people. One common device should be used to vary the appeal.
(4) Antagonistic doctrines and ideas should be combated.
(5) Attempts should be made to create favourable attitude by positive suggestion.
(6) Various devices should be followed to reduce the chances of failure. The propagandist may take the help of prestige suggestion to increase the importance of his cause by having prominent people to support him and his ideas. He may also somehow create the impression that large number of people approve his case of cause.
(7) First impressions often last long. Repetition of ideas, variation in the appeal, by reinforcing the initial ideas with new arguments for the purpose of acceptance and novel type of emotional appeal etc. may be used to change temporary approval in to firm conviction.
(8) When a propagandist finds that mass appeal is not successful, he may change his efforts at first to personal appeals of group leaders who may be better disseminators of ideas than what he is.
In sum, Doob emphasises the need of attracting attention, changing the appeals in accordance with the interest of different groups, combatting unfavourable attitudes and strengthen favourable attitude through various desirable means.
This approach of Doob in making propaganda effective is essentially psychological in character with emphasis on emotional appeal and suggestion. It ignores the appeal to reason and the importance of logical and factual techniques and follows the traditional procedures of advertising organisations.
According to Laswell, an expert in the area of propaganda, propaganda cannot be made effective by merely propagating ideas and doctrines, but what is important, is the method used in the propaganda. He says “no bombs, no bread but words, pictures, songs, parades and many similar devices are the typical means of making propaganda”.
He further views that propaganda relies on symbols and the manipulation of collective attitudes to attain its end. Anybody who uses representations to influence collective responses is a propagandist in the opinion of Laswell.
While Doob confines propaganda to illogical and emotional appeal Laswell restricts propaganda to the propagation of ideas by the methods of manipulation of significant symbols. Undoubtedly symbols are representations play a major role in the process of propaganda, but other factors also play their roles. Hence, the effective methods used by the propagandist are numerous.