CO 350

Spring, 13



Blog Post 7


Pr Ethics Contexts: the Past:

Edward Bernays


The reading will cover two chapters from “PR! A social history of spin,” by Stuart Ewen; access to the two chapters is off of Mycampus



Chapter 1 (pp. 2-18)

  1. What did Bernays think democracy was all about? Did he have a very high opinion of the average person?

Bernays did not have a very high opinion of the average person.  He made it very  clear that the average IQ of an American was 100.  That being said, he was very skeptical of people with that level of intelligence voicing their opinions in the government.  He believed that democracy was about the elite and intelligent studying the psychology and sociology of the average person and changing their mass conformist mindset.


  1. What does public relations have to do with “applied social science”?

He believes that the public relations professional should study the habits, likes, dislikes, psychology, and sociology of the average person and the mass market in order to find out their current opinions and change the opinion of the organization in society.


  1. what is the “trans-historic concern” that public relations is a response to?

The trans-historic concern of public relations is the requirement for the officials in power to shape the opinions of the masses.  To illustrate this, he described how his family employed a chauffeur named “Dumb Jack” who would cart him and his family all over the city every day for 25 dollars a week.  He thought that this was not a bad deal for him or for the driver, but he ended the story with “but that was before people got a social conscience.”  This statement solidified that public relations has been a response to the call to raise awareness for people living in poverty and other subpar living conditions.


  1. how does Bernays define “news”?



Chapter 8 (pp. 159-173) (note: to jump to p. 159, type “cornell” in the search bar on the left)

  1. Was Bernays a “social engineer”? Explain (42,45) 165,168

Yes, he was a social engineer.  He believed that in order to influence the public, he must find out which individuals are currently influencing the public.  One example of this was the campaign to get people to eat more bacon.  He explained that an advertisement by the bacon company saying all of the benefits of bacon would not do much.  Instead, if a doctor endorsed bacon and told the public the benefits of bacon, then they would listen.  He believed that he needed to know how to pull the strings of the mass mind by studying their habits and attitudes in order to know how to influence their thoughts and behaviors.


  1. What did Bernays consider to be “news”? (47) 170-1

Bernays considered reality to be news.  However that reality is in its most “simplified and dramatized form” in order to appeal to the senses of the masses.  Then, it is considered news.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s