Friday, October 5, 2012

Hegemony and Propaganda: The Importance of Trivialisation in Cementing Social Control


 
 Knowledge in modern societies has expanded to the point whereby specialisms and sub-specialisms are the norm. It is just not possible for one person to have in-depth knowledge of every discipline. We must rely on others to convey such knowledge, usually in relatively simplistic terms. Most of us have to take at face value many of the ideas and concepts that we are bombarded with in this age of instant, mass communications and information overload.
 
 People tend to like simplicity. In many instances, not possessing sufficient expertise on matters, they require it. They require easily manageable packages of knowledge, and these packages become taken for granted stocks of ‘common sense’ knowledge that enable them to cope, however faulty or misrepresented that ‘knowledge’ may be.
Politicians and the media also recognise people’s need for simplicity. And here lies the problem, particularly in an increasingly complex and confusing world. In order to rally the masses around certain ideas and to make things ‘simple’ for them, both politicians and the media have to a large extent taken their cue from Edward Bernays, the father of advertising, propaganda and public relations. This is where simplicity morphs into manipulation.
Bernays knew how to manipulate groups of people and get the masses hooked on the products and messages of modern society. We are now all subjected to this type of manipulation each and every day by the incessant bombardment of commercials.
It was the late US academic Rick Roderick who noted the trend towards the banality, simplification and trivialisation that the ad industry excels in is now prolific throughout society. He referred to a rampant phenomenon of important issues and problems being reduced to a fad of some kind through continuous repetition. For example, political debates that are seemingly in deadlock like gay rights and abortion issues, although important, have become almost a pointless debate. The same few points are being thrown around so often that they’ve almost become a fad. This doesn’t mean that the issues themselves aren’t important; it just means that they’ve been reduced to something resembling sound-bite debates.
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1 comment:

the-small-r.com said...

Once citizens are swept from the public forum and into their private residencies, pursuit of the trivial is all that remains for such idle minds. Hannah Arendt recognized that the tyrannical can take hold when citizens become individuals and retire to their homes.