Does the European Union (EU) need a propaganda watchdog like the US Institute of Propaganda Analysis to strengthn its civil society and free markets?

Johanna Fawkes, Kevin Moloney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article1 addresses a paradox in the public communications of liberal democracies andsuggests an easement of the social tensions created by it. Communication by public relations(PR) is an unavoidable consequence of such democracies, yet PR produces communicativeinequalities, which offend the egalitarian and libertarian ethos of their civil societies andfreely accessed markets. PR in this way renders itself into weak propaganda: historically andcurrently more available to principals rather than to subalterns. This is a conclusion mostPR academics and practitioners reject. The former also distance themselves from persuasionand in their attachment to communicative symmetry they have ironically weakenedthe role of ethics in PR production. We seek to restore propaganda, persuasion and ethicsto the centre of PR thinking. Our restoration begins with the establishment of propagandadetectors and regulators in the EU. We call them institutes for propaganda analysis afterthe example of the American Institute for Propaganda Analysis 1937'1942. These whistleblowerswill measure the flows of PR propaganda amongst organisations and groups in thepolitical economy and civil society; and counter-intuitively, will provide PR resource subsidiesfor those wanting to be heard in public via a PR 'voice' but who lack the capacity toproduce it. In this way, a minimal communicative equality of PR production capacity willbe created and European citizens and consumers given a more level playing field of informationsources. PR propaganda is constitutive of liberal democracy, their civil societies andof capitalist markets but it needs reformation in the interests of equality of communicationresources. This is a worthy and legitimate public policy goal to work towards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-214
Number of pages8
JournalPublic Relations Review
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008

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