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Weapons of Mass Persuasion: The Overlap of Public Propaganda and Private Magazine Advertisements in the World War II Era
Advisorde Jong, Greta
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Government sponsored propaganda and privately funded magazine advertisements contributed to and helped shape the decisions made by Americans throughout the twentieth century. This thesis analyzes the historical overlap of various forms of mass communication produced for American women in the World War II era, pinpointing specific causes for the similarities in the design and content of public propaganda and private advertising. I argue that federal intervention over privately funded magazine editors and advertising executives helped shape the economic, political, and social habits of female audiences. I also argue that because the Office of War Information placed advertising executives into leadership positions, publicly sponsored propaganda replicated advertising more than ever, which resulted in the government agency’s attempt to “sell war” to the American people. This, along with the direct comparison of propaganda and advertising, proves that collaboration existed between the seemingly public and private industries, resulting in the government effort to further extend control over the messages that influenced American women. This cooperation between the advertising industry, business leaders, and the federal government directly resulted in a historic redefinition of women’s roles in reaction to war time economic, social, and political requirements.