Science of Coercion: Communication Research and Psychological Warfare, 1945-1960

Science of Coercion: Communication Research and Psychological Warfare, 1945-1960

by Christopher Simpson
     
 

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Science of Coercion provides the first thorough examination of the role of the CIA, the Pentagon, and other U.S. security agencies in the evolution of modern communication research, a field in the social sciences which crystallized into a distinct discipline in the early 1950s. Government-funded psychological warfare programs underwrote the academic triumph of

Overview

Science of Coercion provides the first thorough examination of the role of the CIA, the Pentagon, and other U.S. security agencies in the evolution of modern communication research, a field in the social sciences which crystallized into a distinct discipline in the early 1950s. Government-funded psychological warfare programs underwrote the academic triumph of preconceptions about communication that persist today in communication studies, advertising research, and in counterinsurgency operations.

Christopher Simpson contends that it is unlikely that communication research could have emerged into its present form without regular transfusions of money from U.S military, intelligence, and propaganda agencies during the Cold War. These agencies saw mass communication as an instrument for persuading or dominating targeted groups in the United States and abroad; as a tool for improving military operations; and perhaps most fundamentally, as a means to extend the U.S. influence more widely than ever before at a relatively modest cost. Communication research, in turn, became for a time the preferred method for testing and developing such techniques. Science of Coercion uses long-classified documents to probe the contributions made by prominent mass communication researchers such as Wilbur Schramm, Ithiel de Sola Pool, and others, then details the impact of psychological warfare projects on widely held preconceptions about social science and the nature of communication itself.

A fascinating case study in the history of science and the sociology of knowledge, Science of Coercion offers valuable insights into the dynamics of ideology and the social psychology of communication.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An intriguing picture of the relations between state power and the intellectual community...."—Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"An original and important contribution...."—Science

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195102925
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
01/28/1996
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
8.19(w) x 5.45(h) x 0.56(d)
Lexile:
1830L (what's this?)

What People are saying about this

Dan Schiller
A sobering account of institutional and intellectual complicity in Cold War counterinsurgency. Indispensable as a corrective to prevailing views of the history and purposes of communication study.
—(Dan Schiller, Univeristy of California, San Diego)
William S. Solomon
Science of Coercion is a concise superbly documented study of the U.S. government's virtual dominance of the creation and the development of mass communication research. A chilling history of federal influence on finances, research topics, and academic careers, from World War I to Vietnam, it illuminates the political context of scholarship in the United States.
—(William S. Solomon, Rutgers University)
James W. Carey
At last, a thoroughly researched, well—documented critical history of the relation between the U.S. government and the academic community in the creation and development of mass communication research. Enormously useful and clarifying.
—(James W. Carey, Columbia University)

Meet the Author

About the Author:
Christopher Simpson is Assistant Professor of Communications at American University. He is the winner of five national and international prizes for historical writing, literature and investigative reporting since 1987.

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