J201 Section 310
Word Count: 503
As the nephew of one of this world’s most influential neurologist, Edward Bernays, implemented the very values that Sigmund Freud discovered and applied them to the intricate network of media communication that was evolving at the beginning of the twenty-first century. In Bernays’s book, Propaganda, he brings forth the idea of organized chaos that exists in the media and public relations atmosphere. Manipulation, whether good or bad, is abundant in advertising, propaganda and public relations. Bernays, considered to be the father of public relations, fostered the idea of engineering public consent through his multiple experiences within American mainstream media and propaganda campaigns.
To say that Edward Bernays is an amateur in the field of media could not be further from the truth. Bernays followed in his Uncle’s footsteps and decided to explore the psychoanalytic approach to mass communication. His research in the psychoanalysis study of public opinion and reaction to media products lead him to become a pioneer in the beginnings of American propaganda. Along with Walter Lippmann, the two men were a crucial part of the Committee on Public Information which helped sell the efforts of World War I to millions of citizens. In Propaganda, Bernays explains the idea of an ‘invisible government” that dictates the influence of media and public opinion. Based on the presentation, theme and goal of certain advertising and propaganda, the public can be manipulated into agreeing to specific beliefs. He delicately exploits a major flaw and asset of our media society which is the lack of enforcement within the “invisible government” that exists in our media. Although Bernays himself was the pioneer behind these ideas, he provides his insight to the public so that citizens can be educated in defense of the barrage of media outlets that consumes of world today. He stresses that understanding this concept of media is essential to a democratic society. Overall, Bernays justifies his academic claims regarding media relations by the long line of extensive involvement within the media society.
In addition to the broad range of experiences that Bernays has gone through, his selection of presenting the material in a book rather than in a magazine, justifies his respect for media and the importance it has in a democratic society. Although electronic media was not available in the early twenty-first century, the information that Bernays provides is organized in a scholarly and unified fashion throughout the book. Reviews of the book online speak only of the importance of the book in American society and the usefulness it brings to our daily lives. Mass communication continues to grow at a rate that citizens can’t keep up with and as a result, we can only do our best to learn from one of the forefathers of manipulation and propaganda. Bernays, through his literature, has provided citizens with the ability to be informed amidst the confusion of current media attacks and the evolving age of mass communication: an essential tool to a democratic society.
Bernays, E. (1928) Organizing chaos and The new propagandists. In Propaganda (pp. 37-46 & 59-70), New York: H. Liveright
The Museum of Public Relations (2013). Edward Bernays. 21 October 2013. Retrieved from http://www.prmuseum.com/bernays/bernays_1915.html