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Campaign rhetoric. Rhetoric. The effective or persuasive use of language (or communication) The study of such use Visual rhetoric. Two views. One view of rhetoric sees it as the best means to find truth Let truth and falsehood grapple

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  • The effective or persuasive use of language (or communication)
    • The study of such use
  • Visual rhetoric
two views
Two views
  • One view of rhetoric sees it as the best means to find truth
    • Let truth and falsehood grapple
  • Another sees it as the skillful manipulation of communication to the communicator’s advantage regardless of truth or the interests of the audience
    • Sophists
  • Though it has gained an extremely negative connotation due to its use by the Nazis, communists and other disreputable groups, propaganda is really the use of mass media in the service of persuasion (mediated rhetoric)
institute for propaganda analysis

Institute for Propaganda Analysis

The Seven Propaganda Devices

the institute
The Institute
  • In 1937, the Institute for Propaganda Analysis was created to educate the American public about the widespread nature of political propaganda. Composed of social scientists and journalists, the IPA published a series of books, including:
  • The Fine Art of Propaganda
  • Propaganda Analysis
  • Group Leader's Guide to Propaganda Analysis
  • Propaganda: How To Recognize and Deal With It
In The Fine Art of Propaganda, the IPA stated that "It is essential in a democratic society that young people and adults learn how to think, learn how to make up their minds. They must learn how to think independently, and they must learn how to think together. They must come to conclusions, but at the same time they must recognize the right of other men to come to opposite conclusions. So far as individuals are concerned, the art of democracy is the art of thinking and discussing independently together."
the seven propaganda devices
The Seven Propaganda Devices
  • Name-calling
  • Glittering generalities
  • Transfer
  • Testimonial
  • Plain folks
  • Card stacking
  • Bandwagon
name calling
Name calling
  • "Bad names have played a tremendously powerful role in the history of the world and in our own individual development. They have ruined reputations, stirred men and women to outstanding accomplishments, sent others to prison cells, and made men mad enough to enter battle and slaughter their fellowmen. They have been and are applied to other people, groups, gangs, tribes, colleges, political parties, neighborhoods, states, sections of the country, nations, and races." (Institute for Propaganda Analysis, 1938)
The most obvious type of name calling involves "bad” names. For example, consider the following:
      • Commie
      • Fascist
      • Pig
      • Yuppie Scum
      • Bum
      • Queer
      • Feminazi
glittering generalities
Glittering Generalities
  • “Glittering generalities are emotionally appealing words so closely associated with highly valued concepts and beliefs that they carry conviction without supporting information or reason. They appeal to emotions such as love of country, home; desire for peace, freedom, glory, honor, etc. They ask for approval without examination of the reason.”
  • A glittering generality has two qualities:
    • It is vague
    • It has positive connotations
"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.”
    • (Institute for Propaganda Analysis)
“When someone talks to us about democracy, we immediately think of our own definite ideas about democracy, the ideas we learned at home, at school, and in church. Our first and natural reaction is to assume that the speaker is using the word in our sense, that he believes as we do on this important subject. This lowers our 'sales resistance' and makes us far less suspicious than we ought to be when the speaker begins telling us the things 'the United States must do to preserve democracy.‘”
    • Institute for Propaganda Analysis
some examples
Some Examples
  • "I believe in an America that's strong at home and respected in the world. I believe we can have a strong economy focused on good-paying jobs, a health care plan that reduces costs, an energy plan that frees us from Mideast oil, and I believe we can lead a strong military and strong alliances that keep America safe and secure." -- John Kerry
euphemisms not an ipa device
Euphemisms (not an IPA device)
  • In certain situations . . . the propagandist attempts to pacify the audience in order to make an unpleasant reality more palatable. This is accomplished by using words that are bland and euphemistic.
    • Propaganda Critic (

Since war is particularly unpleasant, military discourse is full of euphemisms. In the 1940's, America changed the name of the War Department to the Department of Defense. Under the Reagan Administration, the MX-Missile was renamed "The Peacekeeper." During war-time, civilian casualties are referred to as "collateral damage," and the word "liquidation" is used as a synonym for "murder."

    • Propaganda Critic
  • You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorn. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold! -- William Jennings Bryan, 1896
  • "Transfer is a device by which the propagandist carries over the authority, sanction, and prestige of something we respect and revere to something he would have us accept. For example, most of us respect and revere our church and our nation. If the propagandist succeeds in getting church or nation to approve a campaign in behalf of some program, he thereby transfers its authority, sanction, and prestige to that program. Thus, we may accept something which otherwise we might reject. “
    • Institute for Propaganda Analysis
  • Crosses
  • National anthem
  • Military uniforms
  • This is simply the personal endorsement given by someone to either the propagandist or her proposal. Often the testimonial includes a claim to personal experience supporting the claims of the propagandist.
Some of these Testimonials may merely give greater emphasis to a legitimate and accurate idea, a fair use of the device; others, however, may represent the sugar-coating of a distortion, a falsehood, a misunderstood notion, an anti-social suggestion..." (Institute for Propaganda Analysis, 1938)
    • Are the people providing the testimonials qualified?
    • Are they convincing because they are like us?
plain folks
Plain Folks
  • By using the plain-folks technique, speakers attempt to convince their audience that they, and their ideas, are "of the people."
  • America's recent presidents have all been millionaires, but they have gone to great lengths to present themselves as ordinary citizens. Bill Clinton eats at McDonald's and reads trashy spy novels. George Bush hated broccoli, and he loved to fish. Ronald Reagan was often photographed chopping wood, and Jimmy Carter presented himself as a humble peanut farmer from Georgia.
    • Propaganda Critic
card stacking
Card Stacking
  • Card stacking is the uneven treatment of evidence for and against a proposition
    • Both the amount and the order/structure of presentation are involved
band wagon
Band Wagon
  • "The propagandist hires a hall, rents radio stations, fills a great stadium, marches a million or at least a lot of men in a parade. He employs symbols, colors, music, movement, all the dramatic arts. He gets us to write letters, to send telegrams, to contribute to his cause. He appeals to the desire, common to most of us, to follow the crowd.”
    • IPA
Because he wants us to follow the crowd in masses, he directs his appeal to groups held together already by common ties, ties of nationality, religion, race, sex, vocation. Thus propagandists campaigning for or against a program will appeal to us as Catholics, Protestants, or farmers or as school teachers; as housewives or as miners.
    • IPA
One implication that the propagandist is trying to promote is that if a lot of people either agree with or believe something, it is right
how to critique propaganda
How to critique propaganda
  • Question: Is the presentation of information appropriate to a dispassionate review of the strengths and weaknesses of the argument?
  • Are the rhetorical techniques appropriate—do they represent a reasonable interpretation of the underlying information?
  • If it weren’t for the rhetorical techniques, would the information lead to the same conclusion?
critique of the seven devices
Critique of the Seven Devices
  • Many messages fall into more than one category.
  • They do not discuss the credibility of the propagandist.
  • They assume an agreement over the facts of the case
  • They assume there exists a correct answer
  • They ignore factors other than the message
    • The IPA techniques do not account for differences among members of the audience
additional devices
Additional devices
  • Manipulation of fear
    • Humans do not rationally deal with danger
    • Commonplace dangers are discounted
  • In this rhetorical technique, something ‘stands in’ for the real subject of the statement
  • “There’s a bear in the woods”
  • “The price of bread has nearly doubled”
  • Metaphors are chosen because of their widespread ‘popularity’ in terms of public awareness, understanding and emotional impact
    • Obama as a rock star
atrocity stories
Atrocity stories
  • While not very common in electoral campaigns, atrocity stories are useful in demonizing some external opposition
frames and framing
Frames and framing
  • Frames are widely accepted and culturally resonant master narratives
    • They include plot, characters, action, conflict, and so on
    • They are the bare-bones structure that rhetors construct a particular narrative upon
      • Cinderella story
      • Comeback kid
      • Hero against evil bureaucracy
once a frame is invoked
Once a frame is invoked
  • Certain questionable ideas are taken as inherently true
  • Certain ideas, actions, people, etc. are seen as relevant while others are seen as unrelated, etc.
  • Certain rules of morality, etc. are considered appropriate while others are excluded
  • Certain policy options are preferred and others are considered poor, foolish, unacceptable, etc.
how are frames invoked
How are frames invoked?
  • First they must be developed over time within the culture
    • Ideological battles
    • Popular culture
    • Commonplace experience
  • Certain terms, metaphors, persons, dramatic representations, etc. become emblematic of frames
  • These easily identifiable terms, etc. are tied to candidates or political positions rhetorically
  • Cold War framing
  • Pro-Life v. Pro-Choice
  • War on Drugs v. Public Health Problem
  • Sports analogies
framing experts
Framing experts
  • George Lakoff
    • Rockridge Institute
  • Frank Luntz
    • Conservative political consultant