It has been a busy semester so far, and I finally have a chance to revisit my evoloving propaganda syllabus. In this entry I include research on the dynamics of “the management of collective attitudes by the manipulation of significant symbols.”

In other words, how does propaganda shape collective attitudes? These papers provide some insight to that question. Propaganda dynamics can be thought of in terms communication, using the famous definition: who says what, to whom, how and with what effect.

Dynamics, as I use the term here, refers to the “says what, how & with what effect” parts of this simplified description of communication. In the list of articles below I would suggest starting with Burnier, which reviews a number of excellent books on symbols in politics. I will follow this up with another post further discussing dynamics. Meantime, comments, suggestions welcomed.


Brunner, R. D. (1987). Key political symbols: the dissociation process. Policy Sciences, 20:53-76.

Bullock, J. G., Gerber, A. S., Hill, S. J., & Huber, G. A. (2015). Partisan Bias in Factual Beliefs about Politics. Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 10, 519-578.

Burnier, D. (1994). Constructing political reality: Language, symbols, and meaning in politics: A review essay. Political Research Quarterly, 47:239-253.

Prior, M., Sood, G., & Khanna, K. (2015). You cannot be serious: The impact of accuracy incentives on partisan bias in reports of economic perceptions. Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 10:489-518.

Stanley, J. (2015). How propaganda works. Princeton University Press.

Weng, L., Flammini, A., Vespignani, A., & Menczer, F. (2012). Competition among memes in a world with limited attention. Scientific reports, 2.


Altheide, D. L. (2006). Terrorism and the Politics of Fear. Cultural studies↔ critical methodologies, 6:415-439.

Bottici, C., & Challand, B. (2006). Rethinking political myth: The clash of civilizations as a self-fulfilling prophecy. European Journal of Social Theory, 9:315-336.

Kahan, D. M., Jamieson, K. H., Landrum, A., & Winneg, K. (2017). Culturally antagonistic memes and the Zika virus: an experimental test. Journal of Risk Research, 20:1-40.

Nyhan, B., & Reifler, J. (2015). Does correcting myths about the flu vaccine work? An experimental evaluation of the effects of corrective information. Vaccine, 33:459-464.