Folksy Propaganda

Here is an excerpt from the US Army’s
Psychological Operations Field Manual No. 33-1
Appendix I: PSYOP Techniques; HQ, Department of the Army (31 August 1979):

Plain Folks or Common Man: The “plain folks” or “common man” approach attempts to convince the
audience that the propagandist’s positions reflect the common sense of the people. It is designed to
win the confidence of the audience by communicating in the common manner and style of the audience.
Propagandists use ordinary language and mannerisms (and clothes in face-to-face and audiovisual
communications) in attempting to identify their point of view with that of the average person.
With the plain folks device, the propagandist can win the confidence of persons who resent or
distrust foreign sounding, intellectual speech, words, or mannerisms.

The audience can be persuaded to identify its interests with those of the propagandist:


Humanizing leaders. This technique paints a more human portrait of US and friendly military and civilian leaders. It humanizes them so that the audience looks upon them as similar human beings or, preferably, as kind, wise, fatherly figures.

Categories of Plain Folk Devices:
Vernacular. This is the contemporary language of a specific region or people as it is commonly spoken or written and includes songs, idioms, and jokes. The current vernacular of the specific target audience must be used.
Dialect. Dialect is a variation in pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary from the norm of a region or nation. When used by the propagandist, perfection is required. This technique is best left to those to whom the dialect is native, because native level speakers are generally the best users of dialects in propaganda appeals.
Errors. Scholastic pronunciation, enunciation, and delivery give the impression of being artificial. To give the impression of spontaneity, deliberately hesitate between phrases, stammer, or mispronounce words. When not overdone, the effect is one of deep sincerity. Errors in written material may be made only when they are commonly made by members of the reading audience. Generally, errors should be restricted to colloquialisms.
Homey words. Homey words are forms of “virtue words” used in the everyday life of the average man. These words are familiar ones, such as “home,” “family,” “children,” “farm,” “neighbors,” or cultural equivalents. They evoke a favorable emotional response and help transfer the sympathies of the audience to the propagandist. Homey words are widely used to evoke nostalgia. Care must be taken to assure that homey messages addressed to enemy troops do not also have the same effect on US/friendly forces.

My opinion: he’s no fool, he’s on to a good strategy.

This entry was posted in society. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>