Propaganda is one form of communication, which tries to achieve response that promotes the desired intent of the propagandist (Dillon, 2009). Doubtless to say every conflict is fought at least on two grounds, the minds of individuals and the battlefield via propaganda. Both sides; the good and bad side can be guilty of misleading people with exaggerations, inaccuracy, distortions and at times fabricating information so as to receive a sense of authenticity and support from people.
An example is the propaganda techniques that have been employed by the American government during the tragic hurricane Katrina incident. The tragic event paved way for a standard government response to a crisis, which entailed sabotaging the rescue mission efforts, reap from the windfall of the tragedy and dominate as well as enslave the victims of the tragedy. This paper examines propaganda as a technique of disseminating information and it also analyzes the three sociological theories.
According to functionalism perspective, a society is a system that incorporates interconnected parts, which work hand in hand in harmony to maintain social equilibrium and a balanced state for the whole (Calhoun, Gerteis & Moody, 2012). On the positive side, the government was trying to ensure the affected citizens get rescued and given better conditions by the Bush Administration. The positive effect created was to rebuild New Orleans and prevent the nation against further disasters. However, the negative side of the tragedy that hit New Orleans was the American government had developed an advanced technology, which would enable them to reduce and control hurricanes.
This technology was put in place as a weapon rather than used for the rightful purpose of helping people during tragic moments. This theory views society as different parts working together however, conflict theory has a different perspective as it views society as composed of different groups having different interests and compete for resources and power.
The conflict theory explains the different aspects that make up the social world by looking at how societal groups have power and how they benefit from a particular social understanding (Calhoun, Gerteis & Moody, 2012). This theory is traced back to Carl Marx who suggests that societies go through different stages of financial development. Industrialization leads to development of two social classes; the haves and have nots (Dillon, 2009). Relating this theory to hurricane Katrina tragedy, propaganda is viewed in the sense that the government claimed that racial discrimination was not there. They claim that incidences of rape, looting, and black violence did not occur. In the real sense, the stories of the poor blacks who were left abandoned and with no survival means turned into tragic and sporadic violent attacks by the black community towards tourists, who were robbed and women raped (Zizek, 2005).
Such reports generated fear, which caused some state officers, quit their work and deployment of troops to contain the situation; also, medical evacuations were delayed. FEMA on the hand turned back food, water and communication lines purporting they did not need them. Even when such reports about black looting, rape and violence prove to be true, stories that circulate would be untrue due to racial prejudice and conflict of interest between the various races around New Orleans and name calling since the black population is associated with violence and heinous acts (Zizek, 2005).
The theory of interactionism tends to look at the bigger picture of the society and suggests how the social problems are affected at institutional level (Jayapalan, 2001). It emphasizes that human behavior is influenced by definitions and meanings, which are created and maintained via symbolic interactions with one another. Human beings respond to defining the situation they are in rather than the objective state itself and situations viewed as real more often become real in their consequences.
Summarily, propaganda can be viewed in various ways as a means of creating scandals and tragedy that can cause havoc amongst individuals in a society. The theory of interactionism provides a better explanation of propaganda. This theory paints a bigger picture of societal problems unlike the conflict and functionalism theories. This theory is more improved and can be used to show that one’s identity is shaped by social interaction through observing how people interact and label other people they interact with.
Calhoun, C., Gerteis, J. & Moody, J. (2012). Contemporary Sociological Theory. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Dillon, M. (2009). Introduction to Sociological Theory: Theorists, Concepts, and their Applicability to the Twenty-First Century. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Jayapalan, N. (2001). Sociological Theories. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers.
Zizek, S. (2005). Katrina: Rumors, Lies, and Racist Fantasies. Retrieved December 25, 2013, from http://www.alternet.org/story/27442/katrina%3A_rumors,_lies,_and_racist_fantasies.