What is modern propaganda

The pluralistic paradigm: propaganda as part of modernity

With the cultural revolution that took place in western societies around 1968, the traditional coordinates of propaganda analysis also changed, because "the neo-Marxist approaches that advanced with the student movement of the 1960s inevitably did not stop at the analysis of the mass media".


Franz Dröge, at that time an influential professor of communication science in Bremen, wrote in 1972: "Communication in capitalism can only be analyzed in its social dependency with the dialectical method applied by Marx and worked out in its rational form."


Quasi overnight, terms like 'false consciousness', 'brainwashing' and 'psychological alignment' found their way into communication science. Others, such as 'suggestion' and 'seduction', experienced a renaissance. “Social theory fell into a one-sided, critical, apodictic view of the phenomenon: mass media served the


the public. This view was not put forward as a hypothesis in order to be empirically tested, but it was assumed as a general suspicion, the obvious justification of which did not have to be further proven. "


This was accompanied by a partial revival of the mass paradigm and a reconnection with the tradition of humanist propaganda criticism - but now under neo-Marxist auspices. J. Michael Sproule rightly speaks of a "return of ideology in propaganda critique":

"Just as World War I brought about an overlapping of popular and academic progressive critique, so too did post-Vietnam and post-Watergate attitudes draw forth a response from academicians. In the field of mass media, the result was to confound the dominant paradigm of communication research, with its value-free premises springing from a vision of ideological consensus. Following the pattern of the 1930s, the new wave of critical propaganda studies began to take as its major point of departure the ideological construction and coloring of news. In addition, the new school of progressive propaganda critique has followed the 1930s pattern of paying attention to such ideological apparatuses as entertainment, education and marketing, and opinion polling. "