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Munitions of the Mind: The British Press in the Second World War

Munitions of the Mind: The British Press in the Second World War

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Published by Matt Grant
A research paper / thesis by Matt Grant, written in 2004 as part of the Twentieth Century History masters degree programme at the University of Liverpool. Looks at coverage of the Second World War by the British press with specific questions around censorship and propaganda. Proposes the idea that to defend / protect its political status and system, Britain had to suspend a free press - one of the pillars of a fully functioning democracy.
A research paper / thesis by Matt Grant, written in 2004 as part of the Twentieth Century History masters degree programme at the University of Liverpool. Looks at coverage of the Second World War by the British press with specific questions around censorship and propaganda. Proposes the idea that to defend / protect its political status and system, Britain had to suspend a free press - one of the pillars of a fully functioning democracy.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Matt Grant on Dec 04, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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03/03/2013

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Munitions of the Mind:The British Press and the Second World War 
Matthew GrantMA Twentieth Century HistoryUniversity of Liverpool(September 2004)
 
 2
Abstract:
In ‘Munitions of the Mind: The British Press and the Second World War’,
Matthew Grant, drawing on theories from previous studies in the socialsciences and original historical research focusing on press coverage,investigates the nature of British media-state relations during World WarTwo. The author begins his investigation by providing a detailed overviewof the demands placed on the British government in its efforts to gainwidespread consensus over the reasons for war, maintain public supportfor the government in how the war was prosecuted and maintain moraleamongst the population in the face of prolonged suffering. The authormakes the case that the government responded to these pressures byestablishing a system of propaganda which was
made up of two main ‘sub
-
systems’; The first of 
these he defines as the
‘System of Censorship’
established formally by government policy in the decade preceding war.
The second of these is defined as the ‘System of Voluntarism andDependency’ which, drawing primarily on the ‘mirror theory’
espoused byDaniel C. Hallin, is based on an analysis that contends the press and
government are ‘intimately linked’ elite organisations
that this closerelationship allowed for state control of the media to move from
censorship to the ‘threshold of lies’
. Evidence of this propaganda system inaction is provided through a framework of research and analysis based onprevious work by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky. The author
applies this framework to the British press’ coverage of the
London Blitz,evacuation of Dunkirk, bombing of Dresden and the use of the atomicbomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to support his arguments regarding the
 
 3nature and role of the propaganda system. He then concludes by looking athow this area of both historical and social science research can befurthered to develop understanding of media-state relations.

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