Waging the war of words

Propaganda and the mass media in modern France, 1939–2017

Authored by: David Lees

The Routledge Handbook of French Politics and Culture

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138101753
eBook ISBN: 9781315656717
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines the ways in which the French mass media have been used for the purposes of disseminating propaganda – specifically messages with political content – between 1939 and the election of Emmanuel Macron. The chapter argues that the French history of mass media propaganda is unusual in that, despite its democratic character, France has historically maintained some of the framework, albeit in a different guise and in a different media landscape, for the production and dissemination of propaganda that was established at a time of national crisis and authoritarian rule in the Second World War. The chapter argues that the greatest challenges to the framework of censorship and control that existed between 1939 and 1974, and the current framework of arms-length regulation, have come from the far left and more recently from platforms and networks that bypass state regulation.

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