Persuasion vs. Deception

The Connotative Shifts of ‘Propaganda’ and their Critical Implications
  • Nick Milne
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Languages at War book series (PASLW)


Randal Marlin (2013: 4), in his recent survey of the history of propaganda, acknowledges that there is now ‘a strong association between the word “propaganda” and the ideas of lying and deception’. This has not always been the case; propaganda found its beginnings as both a practice and a word in rhetorical (and often quite honest) efforts to persuade other parties of a position they might not currently hold. Now, however, the association of propaganda with lying has become firmly entrenched — so much so that ‘the word carries the taint of bloodshed’ (Kingsbury 2010: 13) or at the very least a hint of infamy. While these two connotative poles allow for little hope of reconciliation, it is worth considering how such a transition of associations came to be in the first place. Some of the blame must fall upon the role of propaganda on the home front both during and after the First World War.


Oxford English Dictionary Mass Execution German Army Home Front Western Front 
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  • Nick Milne

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