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Propaganda and the Role of the State in Inter-War Britain$
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Mariel Grant

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198204442

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198204442.001.0001

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Perceptions of Propaganda in Inter-War Britain: An Overview

Perceptions of Propaganda in Inter-War Britain: An Overview

(p.10) 2 Perceptions of Propaganda in Inter-War Britain: An Overview
Propaganda and the Role of the State in Inter-War Britain

Mariel Grant

Oxford University Press

Developments in social nomenclature reflect changes in the community and people's perception of it, and color the interpretation of associated terms and events. The emergence in the early years of the 20th century of the modern definition of propaganda as a powerful manipulative force merits consideration. The word first appeared in the 17th century, when it referred to a committee of cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church responsible for the care of foreign missions. Both contemporaries and historians have agreed that the decidedly negative definition of propaganda as a means of tampering with the human will, as an evil emerged in response to the success of British propaganda in the First World War. Studies on propaganda published since the Second World War have tended to address the validity of these claims, rather than examine the influence which they exerted at the time. Concern over the need to verify the facts about propaganda has meant that the ongoing debate during the inter-war period has been overlooked. The ambiguity surrounding propaganda in the inter-war years was reflected in the varied applications of the term.

Keywords:   propaganda, Roman Catholic Church, committee of cardinals, foreign missions, inter-war period

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