Understanding propaganda : Noam Chomsky and the institutional analysis of power

Cathey, Paul Eben (2010) Understanding propaganda : Noam Chomsky and the institutional analysis of power. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




This thesis argues that Noam Chomsky’s theory of propaganda is a useful way to understand class domination. The strengths and weaknesses of Chomsky’s theory are examined by means of a comparison with Antonio Gramsci’s theory of cultural hegemony. Since work that discusses and analyses Chomsky’s theory is sparse, this piece first gives a detailed explanation of his theory. This requires a short clarification of Chomsky’s terminology, focusing on his definitions of indoctrination and class. Thereafter a thorough account of Chomsky’s ideas regarding class structure, the indoctrinating functions of educational and media institutions and the difference between upper and lower class propaganda are discussed. A common criticism of Chomsky’s arguments is that they are conspiratorial. Thus, following the discussion of Chomsky’s theory I present an argument that Chomsky uses an institutional analysis as opposed to conspiracy theory to reach his conclusions. After arguing that Chomsky has a coherent, logical theory of propaganda that is not conspiratorial, this thesis shifts to a comparison of Chomsky and Gramsci’s theory. The elements of Gramsci’s theory that are relevant to Chomsky are discussed, focusing on their overall similarities, in particular, the question of consent. The final chapter consists of a comparison of the two theories, examining each theorist’s ideas on the nature of education, language, consent and the possible ways in which the lower classes can oppose their own oppression.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Noam Chomsky, Antonio Gramsci, Propaganda, Social classes
Subjects:J Political Science
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Political Studies and International Studies
ID Code:2548
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:03 Apr 2012 07:02
Last Modified:03 Apr 2012 07:02
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