Interpersonal Propaganda

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(Below are three responses to my previous essay.  My responses are in italics.)

N.’s Response:


I just read your paper with great interest.  You make a number of important points.  However, you say repeatedly that not every group needs to follow all of the 10 steps [required according to] to be successful.  However, you never give any support for that opinion.  You may be right about that, but I wish that you would give specific details showing which steps can be omitted and why?  You indicate that various movements have been successful in the past without using all these principles.  But I believe those so-called successes have only been partially successful.  The reason for that may be that they have not followed all of the points B. has used.




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“Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” -Assata Shakur.

While I am certainly not qualified to compose a proper tribute to Sandra Bland, I am qualified as a social psychologist to analyze some elements of #BlackLivesMatter in relation to Individual Evolution1. In order for either to impact societal change, it will be necessary for both to be revolutionary. In this case, revolution implies change. Whether it is gradual or immediate depends upon the need and the circumstances. Political minorities have been programmed into subservience for centuries via a political majority fueled by institutionalized racism utilizing propaganda promoting the idea that if they do what they are taught, what they are told, and what is demanded of them, they will receive fair treatment, equality, and integration with that political majority. In other words, if they play nice, institutionalized racism will eventually disappear. That has not happened, and it will never happen unless it is demanded as forcefully as possible and racism is deinstitutionalized. For most people, recent events contradict the myth of a peaceful transition. For some, Individual Evolution does not need to proceed according to a formula that progresses from a bureaucratic vision to an evolutionary power (the Head of logical thought through the Heart of desire to the Hand of action). And while individual evolution continues to evolve through a series of conference call classes anyone interested is welcome to attend, I will argue that it doesn’t necessarily need to follow this method to be successful.

A friend asked me to write this, even after I explained that I am not worthy to write a tribute to Sandra Bland, the woman who was recently murdered by a Texas police officer and made to appear as though she hanged herself in her jail cell. I know I am not worthy because Sandra Bland should not have been murdered. I know I am not worthy because the families of every person of colour, men and women that have left us too, too soon, before and after Michael Brown in recent months and, frankly, in the last few hundred years of murder in the employ of institutionalized slavery and racism, understand what is at stake better than I do. People of colour have died and continue to die needlessly, sacrificed to the bloodlust of a white patriarchy that doesn’t care, a white patriarchy that lashes out in fear and hatred with the knowledge that their control, their enslavement of everyone not like them, their reign, will end soon. Those that have been awake for centuries are still awake, and they have awakened the rest of us, though frankly we all should have been wide awake and alert for decades if not centuries, leaving institutionalized slavery, with all its permutations, in a weakened blob at the bottom of the dustbin of history.

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Summary.  The authors present a reformulation of social influence theory as a taxonomy, decision tree, and glossary sorted through the basis of “Four Fundamental Interpersonal Influence Distinctions,” cognitive processing (conscious/unconscious), perceived intentionality, relative social status, and direction of change. (p. 715). The authors suggest that this reformulation suggests several directions for further research by asking as many questions as it answers.  Of particular personal interest in this summary is the perceived intentionality, specifically Unintentional Influence (imitation/antiimitation) that breaks down into indirect conformity, anticonformity, identification, disinhibitory contagion, and residual influence types.

Questions/Problems.  The authors explain that there are two areas where issues arise when distinguishing Social Influence from other topics in social psychology.  In fact, in most social psychology textbooks, social psychology IS social influence.  So the authors propose a definition that is more specific rather than broad to distinguish from sweeping generalities that do nothing more than using a concept to define a concept without really explaining anything.  That is the challenge of this new model of approaching the topic.  The authors also recognize another challenge:  distinguishing among concepts within a traditional sphere of social influence. There is no agreement among scholars regarding concepts, hence the basic reasoning for the authors’ new model.

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