Manufacturing Consent Book Summary - Manufacturing Consent Book explained in key points
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Manufacturing Consent summary

Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky

The Political Economy of the Mass Media

4.5 (208 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

Manufacturing Consent by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky exposes how mass media in democracies serve propaganda to further the interests of corporate elites, and suppress dissent and inconvenient facts.

Table of Contents

    Manufacturing Consent
    Summary of 11 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 11

    The media play a vital role in indoctrinating people to accept an unequal society.

    The media have many roles; it is the media’s job to inform us, entertain us and to amuse us. But the mass media have an additional vital task: the promotion of shared social values and codes of behavior. The government and ruling institutions need an outlet to ‘educate’ the general population with their ideals, and the mass media fulfill this role.

    As society is massively unequal in terms of wealth and power, the media’s defense of the status quo is actually a defense of the interests of the dominant elite, ensuring that their politically and economically powerful positions are maintained. The media must therefore slant their coverage to produce stories that support the ruling political and economic classes: a tiny community of people who sit at the top of society.

    In their role of defending the social hierarchies, the media effectively create propaganda backing the ruling classes.

    The mass media often proudly proclaim that they produce objective and trustworthy coverage whilst holding the powerful to account; the coverage of the Vietnam War is often used as an example. In reality, the media have no interest in defending the public interest against the wealthy and powerful. Instead, they protect the rights and privileges of the ruling elites by reporting events through a narrow, biased lens. This ensures that audiences accept their position in the unequal and unfair structure of society.  

    The media play a vital role in indoctrinating people to accept an unequal society.

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    What is Manufacturing Consent about?

    Manufacturing Consent (1988) takes a critical view of the mass media to ask why only a narrow range of opinions are favored whilst others are suppressed or ignored. 

    It formulates a propaganda model which shows how alternative and independent information is filtered out by various financial and political factors allowing the news agenda to be dominated by those working on behalf of the wealthy and powerful. Far from being a free press, the media in fact maintain our unequal and unfair society.

    Manufacturing Consent Review

    Manufacturing Consent (1988) is an eye-opening book that explores the mechanisms behind media manipulation and the ways in which governments and corporations control the dissemination of information. Here's what sets this book apart:

    • It presents a compelling analysis of the propaganda model, revealing how media serves special interests rather than providing objective coverage.
    • The book offers in-depth case studies that expose the systematic biases and agendas within mainstream media, challenging readers to question the information they consume.
    • With its accessible writing and thought-provoking insights, the book manages to tackle a complex subject matter without being dull or overwhelming.

    Who should read Manufacturing Consent?

    • Anyone who wants to know who sets the agenda of the mass media
    • Anyone who would like to know whose interests the media serve
    • Anyone who wants to understand why the mass media suppress independent voices

    About the Author

    Edward S. Herman is an academic specialising in finance who has written many works on political economy and the media.

    Noam Chomsky is a world-renowned expert in the fields of linguistics and global political culture. He is best known for his criticisms of globalisation, American power and the mass media. He has authored numerous publications including Hegemony or Survival and Deterring Democracy.

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    Manufacturing Consent FAQs 

    What is the main message of Manufacturing Consent?

    The main message of Manufacturing Consent explores how mass media shapes public opinion and perpetuates power imbalances.

    How long does it take to read Manufacturing Consent?

    The reading time for Manufacturing Consent varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Manufacturing Consent a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Manufacturing Consent is a thought-provoking book worth reading. It sheds light on the influence of media and encourages critical thinking.

    Who is the author of Manufacturing Consent?

    Manufacturing Consent is written by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky.

    What to read after Manufacturing Consent?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Manufacturing Consent, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Failed States by Noam Chomsky
    • Profit Over People by Noam Chomsky
    • Propaganda by Edward Bernays
    • A Theory of Justice by John Rawls
    • Understanding Power by Noam Chomsky
    • Attack from Within by Barbara McQuade
    • Languishing by Corey Keyes
    • Why We Remember by Charan Ranganath
    • The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
    • Deep Work by Cal Newport