The Job of Creating Desire: Propaganda as an Apparatus of Government and Subjectification

Journal of Speculative Philosophy 31 (1):101-118 (2017)
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ABSTRACT This article addresses shortcomings in the way that philosophers and cultural critics have considered propaganda by offering a new genealogical account. Looking at figures such as Marx, Adorno, Marcuse, Habermas, Bourdieu, and Stanley, this article finds that their consideration of propaganda has not necessarily been wrong but has missed some of the most significant and important functions of propaganda. This text draws on archival and published materials from propagandists, most notably Edward Bernays, to elaborate a new governmentality of propaganda and public relations. Through focusing on the concept of public opinion, I argue that propaganda is best thought of as an apparatus whose function it is to construct, modify, counter, and destroy relations of force within public opinion in order to produce the subjectivities and conduct that propagandists and their clients desire.

Author's Profile

Cory Wimberly
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley


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