One part of the field of psychology works on improving people’s lives through therapy. But there is another side of psychology, a mass psychology which has been used on people to control or distract us. I call this “sinister psychology” and this will be the focus of this class. Some advertisers say that they are only fulfilling the needs of the public. Others say people are puppets on a string and advertising is all-powerful. How do we make sense of these contentions?
In order to understand what is going on we will discuss the differences between six forms of information control. Then we’ll discuss ten forms of language trickery. Lastly, I will present seven theoretical schools of propaganda. In the second half of the class, we will apply these schools of propaganda to five topics: economics, advertising, nationalism, sports, and religion. Like it or not, indoctrination, pharmaceutical ads, political campaigns, loyalty and fanatic devotion to groups, a volatile capitalist economy, political theater were all a big part of the 20th century and they show no signs of letting up so far in the 21st century.
General Public/Members: $88/$82 Eight Sessions
Mondays, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Suggested Texts: Taylor, Kathleen (2004) Brainwashing, Oxford University PressJowett, Garth and O’Donnell, Victoria (2012) Propaganda and Persuasion, Sage Publishing 5th or 6th Edition
Your Teacher: Bruce has been a night-school college teacher for 27 years and most of his teaching has been with working adults. He has taught in alternative college settings, in prisons, in the Air Force, in the Navy, and has taught in community colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has written three books on the application of Russian Lev Vygotsky’s work to world history. He is also a pen-and-ink artist.
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