Do you ever get the feeling that powerful forces are manipulating your life choices and decisions using artful persuasion skills? Perhaps that’s because they are. The only question is who “they” are: it can be a political party, a church, an activist organization, a corporation or a news outlet devoted to supporting one side or the other. It can be the producers of a commercial product who want you to buy their goods.
Scholars, journalists and politicians have long argued about how to define propaganda, and how to distinguish it from other forms of mass communication, such as promotion or marketing. Whether you’re buying a tube of toothpaste, or voting in an election, today, more than ever, it helps to know who is influencing us to do what.
As a professional journalist, Donald Brackett has explored how the ideas designed to persuade are transmitted. As a former advertising and public relations executive, he has been in the competitive business of “manufacturing desire.”
DONALD BRACKETT is a culture critic specializing in the history, theory, and practice of art, design, music, and architecture. He is a well-known art historian and curator, and taught art and design history at the Ontario College of Art and Design and George Brown College.