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10 - Propaganda by Omission: The Case of Topical Silence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 June 2019

Amy Jo Murray
University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Kevin Durrheim
University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
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Although propaganda is typically thought of as something created through tangible words or images, it can also occur via the absence of such stimuli. This chapter illustrates how such “propaganda-by-omission” can be created. The particular focus is on “topical silences,” those cases where failure to include information relevant to a certain topic can skew the recipient’s understanding of that topic in a propagandistic way. Such selectivity constitutes a type of “framing” driven by ideology including sociopolitical myths. Using as a case study the current diplomatic tension between the United States and North Korea, the chapter lays out a step-by-step procedure for analyzing such propagandistic silences. The discussion includes important caveats about “truth” and authorial intent and ends with practical advice for researchers and citizen activists.

Qualitative Studies of Silence
The Unsaid as Social Action
, pp. 186 - 205
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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