Pr!: A Social History of Spin

Front Cover
Basic Books, Aug 4, 2008 - Social Science - 352 pages
2 Reviews
The early years of the twentieth century were a difficult period for Big Business. Corporate monopolies, the brutal exploitation of labor, and unscrupulous business practices were the target of blistering attacks from a muckraking press and an increasingly resentful public. Corporate giants were no longer able to operate free from the scrutiny of the masses."The crowd is now in the saddle,” warned Ivy Lee, one of America’s first corporate public relations men. "The people now rule. We have substituted for the divine right of kings, the divine right of the multitude.” Unless corporations developed means for counteracting public disapproval, he cautioned, their future would be in peril. Lee’s words heralded the dawn of an era in which corporate image management was to become a paramount feature of American society. Some corporations, such as AT&T, responded inventively to the emergency. Others, like Standard Oil of New Jersey (known today as Exxon), continued to fumble the PR ball for decades. The Age of Public Relations had begun.In this long-awaited, pathbreaking book, Stuart Ewen tells the story of the Age unfolding: the social conditions that brought it about; the ideas that inspired the strategies of public relations specialists; the growing use of images as tools of persuasion; and, finally, the ways that the rise of public relations interacted with the changing dynamics of public life itself. He takes us on a vivid journey into the thinking of PR practitioners--from Edward Bernays to George Gallup--exploring some of the most significant campaigns to mold the public mind, and revealing disturbing trends that have persisted to the present day. Using previously confidential sources, and with the aid of dozens of illustrations from the past hundred years, Ewen sheds unsparing light on the contours and contradictions of American democracy on the threshold of a new millennium.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - stillatim - LibraryThing

I've read a couple of books on early to mid twentieth century American history, and seen the fabulous 'Century of the Self.' So it's not like I'm all knowing on the subject of this book; despite that ... Read full review

PR!: a social history of spin

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

A social critic and historian concerned with images and the power they have on society, Ewen (Channels of Desire, Univ. of Minnesota, 1992) presents here a social history of public relations in the ... Read full review

Contents

Visiting Edward Bernays
4
Dealing in Reality Protocols of Persuasion
20
Truth Happens An Age of Publicity Begins
40
Controlling Chaos
61
Educate the Public
83
House of Truth
103
Social Psychology and the Quest for the Public Mind
132
Unseen Engineers Biography of an Idea
147
The Greater Good
234
The New Deal and the Publicity of Social Enterprise
248
Money Talks The Publicity of Private Enterprise
289
Public Ultimatums
340
Engineering Consensus
374
The Public and Its Problems Some Notes for the New Millennium
400
Notes
416
Bibliography
450

Modern Pipelines of Persuasion
175
Optical Illusions
192
Silver Chains and Friendly Giants
216

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

Stewart Ewen is professor of media studies and chair of the Department of Communications at Hunter College. He is also a professor in the Ph.D. programs in history and sociology at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is the author of the acclaimed Captains of Consciousness, Channels of Desire, and All Consuming Images, the last of which provided the basis for Bill Moyers’s award-winning PBS series The Public Mind. He lives in New York City.

Bibliographic information