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Updated on July 15, 2011

Manufacturing Consent: the Political Economy of the Mass Media is a disturbing and thought provoking book. It is disturbing when we realize that the common man has been ensnared in a carefully woven web of propaganda. If a totalitarian regime uses violence to get conformity, democracy resorts to propaganda. Chomsky explains how this indoctrination is done and the rationale behind it.

Statistics reveal that about 23 corporations have control over 50% of the media in the US. This however does not reveal the extent of its control over society. But Chomsky diligently unravels its nexus. The economic decisions of investment, production and distribution in a society are in the hands of a few big corporations, and they in turn also occupy positions of authority in the political system. In such a scenario it becomes imperative for the political system to not only sustain it but also provide the ideological infrastructure. This is where the corporation’s control over the media becomes handy. Chomsky explains this by using the ‘propaganda model’. Indoctrination is done in two ways. First identify the target audience, one of which may be called the’ political class’. They form just twenty percent of the population, are well educated and articulate. They are usually managers, teachers, and writers etc, who are involved in some some kind of decision making, and being opinion makers form a crucial segment. They are also take part in the voting process. The remaining eighty per cent of the population merely follow orders and are not expected to think. So if you can control the opinion leaders, the masses would faithfully follow. This is where the next component of the ‘propaganda model’ becomes operational.

This subtle control of the articulate and politically conscious opinion leaders is achieved by ‘agenda setting‘a process which involves an elaborate filtering process. Selection of news, framing and focusing of issues, and the initiation and limiting of debate are all done discretely. This process is usually done by the elite media like The New York Times, The Washington Post and a few major television channels. Once the major framework has been set, others merely adapt to this structure, the local media particularly.

There are other filters too which influence media content. The most important happens to be the ownership of the media, which in the US is in the hands of a few dozen major corporations.

The other major filter is advertising, which is the primary source of revenue for the media. The indirect control the advertiser has is by controlling the flow of advertising.

Media relies heavily on corporate and Government sources for information. The Public relations departments of big corporations and Government have perfected the art of ‘managing’ the media, which they put to maximum use.

Manufacturing consent is primarily a compilation of case studies to validate the propaganda model. Cases are primarily from stories churned out by the big media like The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, and CBS News. Chomsky and Herman first present the facts and then go on to analyze how these facts have been presented. The findings will certainly make us rethink our notion of freedom of press


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    Alex 6 years ago

    Colonize great concept.You welcome ram_m. It was a pleasure. :)

  • ram_m profile image

    ram_m 6 years ago from India

    Thank you Alex by contributing to this lively debate. You have highlighted some very important insights and also the books “Effective Personal Communication skills for Public Relations” by Andy Green and “Buy.ology “by Martin Lindström. I will certainly read these books. The reality is that the battle for the mind has become more intense and subtle.Colonize the mind and you can colonize society

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    Alex 6 years ago

    Interesting ram_m. Very good choice.

    You talk about a knowing thing in Public Relations and Advertising. The best PR is the one that is never seen but their effects are well known in changing culture. A way to bend things to the view, enginnering ideas, get the contagious ideas (memes) to do their job. Pass some discret memes by association to others knowing to be credible and transversal, and much of things will get along.

    Did you ever read “Effective Personal Communication skills for Public Relations”? It's from Andy Green. He talks a little about memes.

    If through strategic communication founded on psicological and social sciences and the know about human brain through highly advanced scan, we get conscience that much of our decision are made in uncounscience mind, and that we have some neurons called mirron-neurons that do a important job in imitation and in the empathic look around things, in such a porportion, that much of the time humans are in an autopilot, and this need to have some kind of thought, rising. A book that I recommend reading to know about our consumer choices with this tech view is “Buy.ology “by Martin Lindström, he talks about this and this study was funded with so “few dollars” by huge corporations. :D

  • ram_m profile image

    ram_m 6 years ago from India

    It's always nice to hear the other side. Is that not what free speech and democracy about? Thank you American Romance

  • American Romance profile image

    American Romance 6 years ago from America

    Wow! I listen to MD and the rest of you and I think how sad! This country never worked for the common man? Why dont you guys go live abroad for a few years! We have the richest middle class in the world! Uh Duh the middle class came from the common man! Liberals are always unhappy, sad, and miserable..................why not leave the dark side and come back to the ideology that made this country great, and it's people joyful!

  • ram_m profile image

    ram_m 6 years ago from India

    Rightly said Mickey Dee we are indeed " prisoners without resources". That is why we defenseless. But I think the new media could be our ally. To an extent we can make our feeble voice heard ---only to an extent---because both the big business and big government are trying to monopolize this new medium. Thank you for your very relevant comment.

  • ram_m profile image

    ram_m 6 years ago from India

    Very true Moeflats media has truly become an instrument of brainwashing. Some of us are at least becoming aware of this though we not able to do anything about this.But what about those who are not even aware of this--- they become soulless zombies in modern garb condemned to be like Sisyphus.

  • Micky Dee profile image

    Micky Dee 6 years ago

    Mass media is owned by the few. The Skull & Bones, Some Masons - Some bu$ine$$men - you give them a name - but only less than 30 newspapers, radio stations, etc. had to me bought for that trickle down "approved news" we read and hear.

    But- Kool cigarettes are so Kool.

    "Each grain of Maxwell House coffee are enriched flavor buds ..."

    Bottom line for me is - we're prisoners without resources.

    No land - no say.

    Just like right after the Revolutionary War that was fought for - freedom. A white man had a vote if he owned property. A woman could not vote.

    Black men and women were chained - regardless if they FOUGHT FOR FREEDOM. In 1778 the back room deal for the presidency ripped reconstruction from the - then - yes - NASTY SOUTH - and black men dies eating, sleeping, and pooping together chained up.

    This country NEVER worked for the common man - NEVER - it does not today.

    "Congress offered their “back-room” deal in 1876. If the Democrats “agreed” to “accept” Rutherford B. Hayes as their newly elected Grand Poobah of the US then old Rutherford would recall all the federal troops who had been propping up “Reconstruction” in the South."

    Great hub. God bless!

  • MOEFLATS profile image

    MOEFLATS 6 years ago

    The media once served the purpose of entertaining and inspiring us. Now, it is not only UN-empowering and un-entertaining - it is an instrument of thought manipulation. It seems to also be accompanied by an ear-ringing noise that causes disturbing thoughts and feelings. I view it more as an instrument of brainwashing and mental torture than a source of information or entertainment.