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Propaganda, Visual Communication of

Garth Jowett


There is no more difficult concept to clearly define than that of →  propaganda. Countless books and learned essays have grappled with a definition of this persuasive practice that would encompass all of its many manifestations. The difficulty in arriving at a definition that satisfies all aspects of this particular type of persuasive behavior is compounded by the historical shift in the acceptance of those activities that today might be labeled as propaganda. Propaganda, in its most neutral sense, means to disseminate or promote particular ideas. A working definition of propaganda which focuses on the communication process is as follows: “Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist” ( Jowett & O'Donnell 2006 ). The concept of persuasion is an integral part of human nature and the use of specific techniques to bring about large-scale shifts in ideas and beliefs can be traced back to the ancient world (→  Persuasion ; Rhetoric, Argument, and Persuasion ). While propaganda activities utilize a wide range of media and virtually every form of human social interaction, the utilization of visual media has been particularly effective throughout human history (→  Rhetoric and Visuality ; Visual Communication ). The psychological effect attained ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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