Manipulation of social consciousness through mass media

Published on Online Journal, by Saida Arifkhanova, Oct. 22, 2010.

Information is an important part of modern human life. Information is becoming a more significant element of modern life along with education and the way people interact with information today to a greater extent defines the level of their existence.

Possession of information and education in 21-century determine a modern person’s status in society. Along with the sphere of education, information field determines the fields of labour and economy and influences the sphere of state politics. Manipulation of information and also manipulation of social consciousness in our age are becoming a technology of programming people’s behavior. Manipulating society one can destroy certain ideas in people’s minds and on their ruins create new ideas and fundamentals, for example of a new ideology. 

Telecommunications system as a major joint of channels of information delivery obtains dominating place in human environment. “Manipulation of information is akin to disinformation . . .” scholar Vladimir Volkov writes in his “History of Disinformation.” He writes that manipulation as destruction has three aims:

  • 1. Demoralization of the nation by disintegration of groups making it up
  • 2. Discrediting of authorities and their values
  • 3. Neutralization of masses to prevent all forms of spontaneous behavior in favour of the rules set and at a certain moment to peacefully bring to power a small group of people.

Another researcher Sergey Kara-Murza in his book “Manipulation of consciousness” marks out three major features of manipulation:

  • 1. Manipulation is a kind of spiritual and psychological influence when the spirit and mental structures of individuality are on target
  • 2. Manipulation is a concealed influence the fact of which should not be noticed by the object of manipulation
  • 3. Manipulation influence requires considerable specialist skill and knowledge.

Researcher Herbert Franke in his work “Manipulated man” writes as follows: “Under manipulation in most cases we should understand a mental influence made secretly, consequently to the detriment of those at whom it is aimed.”

According to all these studies, manipulation of information through mass media is aimed at society. In scientists’ opinions,’ manipulation becomes necessary when the state is interested in popularization of some ideas and tries to build an ideological foundation for justifying certain measures of influence. Thus propaganda works directly for ideological needs of the state and those at the head of the state … //

… Major conclusions:

Analyzing publications of some media of Uzbekistan one can note such most frequently used technique of manipulation as the following:

  • Stereotype;
  • ”polarization” of information flow;
  • isolation of the addressee from other influence – the lack of alternative sources of information;
  • partial concealment of information;
  • building reports with the use of professional terms;
  • simplification;
  • standardization;
  • repetition.

Special media manipulation technique includes information asymmetry and coverage asymmetry. Here we can also note the use of metaphors, fixation on authoritative and often anonymous sources, methods of contrast and false analogy and stereotype reports.

Media materials are not always professional from the point of view of personal journalist passions and the desire to express their own views. Very often, relying on experts’ opinions a publication gives partial, one-sided evaluation of an event. Taking into consideration that manipulation technologies are also improving, society must more appeal to social responsibility of journalists themselves and to their observing journalist ethics as a basis of journalist’s professionalism. Informing, entertaining and educating the audience, mass media must try to correspond to the reputation of a progressive innovative institution of society supplying it with maximum objective and efficient information. Journalists must try to refrain from clear statements in favour of this or that party, trying to observe the balance and avoid extreme assessments of the real situations.

The lack of extreme expressions and propaganda stereotype makes the source of information deserving confidence. The presence of anonymous and authoritative sources of information excludes any alternative interpretation of the news. Thus, a certain stereotype is consolidated in the minds of the audience.

According the qualitative and quantitative analysis, the more the publication tries to meet the high world standards the less it is inclined to use manipulation technologies to attract the attention of readers. Proportionally to the growth of journalist responsibility before society, not only before his editor, requirements of professionalism in journalism also grow.

At present progressive mass media consider themselves as a socially responsible institution. At the same time, the less is the media engaged the less it is used as an instrument of influence on the minds of its audience. So, economic independence of media is of great importance. Society, protecting its own interests must more appeal to the journalists’ social responsibility, their professionalism and their observing of journalist ethics as a fundamental principle of professionalism in journalism  … (full long text and Bibliography).

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