Edward Bernays, born in Vienna in 1891 and famously the nephew of Sigmund Freud, was perhaps the pioneer in the field of Public Relations, and highly influential in providing the framework for modern advertising. His work aimed to convince people to want things that they didn’t need, and in the process, link their unconscious desires to the consumption of mass produced goods. This in turn, it was theorized, could be used to control the masses, as by keeping them distracted on frivolous happenings and relatively unimportant wants, they wouldn’t interfere with the activities of what he called ‘the important few’.
All the while, he was remarkably candid about his intent. In one of his first books, ‘Propaganda’ (1928), he coined the term ‘engineering of consent’ to describe his technique for controlling the masses. In this podcast series, Guy Evans examines just how influential these ideas were, and details the resulting impact in relation to public relations, advertising, celebrity culture, and democracy itself.
To listen to the 13 part series examining Bernays’ epic book, click here: