Recently Published Book Spotlight: How Propaganda Became Public Relations Interview with Cory Wimberly by Nathan Eckstrand, Blog of the APA, July 6, 2020
This edition of the Recently Published Book Spotlight is about Cory Wimberly‘s How Propaganda Became Public Relations: Foucault and the Corporate Government of the Public. Cory Wimberly is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. His research primarily focuses on corporate governmentality—analyzing the corporate apparatuses responsible for the guiding and transforming public conduct. Wimberly’s past work has focused on propaganda and public relations and his current work is exploring other areas of corporate governmentality including marketing, advertising, and industrial design.
What is your work about?
How Propaganda Became Public Relations: Foucault and the Corporate Government of the Public is a philosophical investigation into the transformative effect propaganda has on us as individuals, on us as publics, and on society more broadly. I argue that propaganda does far worse than just lie to us: modern propaganda aims to transform us into the kind of subjects who carry out a particular line of conduct freely and as a key part of our identity. In other words, propaganda aims to transform who we are as individuals and as publics so that we become the kind of subjects who behave as the propagandists’ want as a matter of course and disposition. For example, why does someone spend an exorbitant amount on yoga pants only to wear them around the house? Or hoard assault rifles? Often, it is because they are convinced that a key aspect of their identity lies in that ownership; those goods have become a necessary extension of their very being. In Foucault’s language, propaganda is an apparatus that governs through subjectification—it directs our conduct through transforming our subjectivity—and it is not just a technique of mass deception as so many assume.