Coercion: Why We Listen to What They Say

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They say that you're using only ten percent of your brain. They say the corner office is a position of power. They say you can earn thousands of dollars a week in your spare time. They say that knowing your audience is more important than whatever it is you're selling.

Who, exactly, are they? And why do we listen to them?

Douglas Rushkoff argues that we each have our own theys - bosses, pundits, authorities, both real and imaginary - whom we allow to shape our lives and manage our futures. Like parents, they can make us feel safe. They do our thinking for us. We don't have to worry about our next move. It has already been decided on our behalf, and in our best interests. Or so we hope.

Unfortunately, not everyone to whom we surrender this control has our interests at heart. What's more, Rushkoff says, as much as we try to resist them, they are always finding new and improved ways to manipulate us.

Publishers Weekly

Until recently a cyber-optimist who, in popular books like Cyberia and Media Virus, augured a digital revolution, Rushkoff now warns that the promise of the Net as an open-ended civic forum is fading as relentless corporate marketers peddle their wares and capitalize on shortened attention spans. In a scathing critique that extends far beyond cyberspace in scope, Rushkoff identifies the subtle forms of coercion used by advertisers, public relations experts, politicians, religious leaders and customer service reps, among others. Retreading territory covered by critic Neil Postman and others, Rushkoff provides additional examples of how the ordinary person is often unsuspectingly manipulated, whether in the shopping mall, at a sports event or in a Muzak-drenched store or office. This analysis is particularly strong when deconstructing the postmodern techniques of persuasion that advertisers use to reach increasingly cynical target audiences, including commercials that self-consciously mock the marketing process. Rushkoff also argues that mass spectacles (e.g., rock festivals, Louis Farrakhan's Million Man March, Promise Keepers rallies) foster tribal loyalty but are often contrived, commercial or downright destructive. He devotes a chapter to pyramid schemes used by cults, infomercials, Internet con artists and get-rich-quick marketers. His freewheeling survey underscores the social cost of these coercive strategies, which, he says, tend to make us see one another as marks. Despite his up-to-the-minute examples, however, his overall analysis is not fresh or original enough to take the place of Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Author : Douglas Rushkoff

Publisher : Penguin Group (USA)

Published Year : October 2000

Format : Paperback - Paperback, 304 pages

Subject : Media - General & Miscellaneous

Dimensions : 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.85 (d)

ISBN : 157322829X

ISBN13 : 9781573228299


Overview :

Noted media pundit and author of Playing the Future Douglas Rushkoff gives a devastating critique of the influence techniques behind our culture of rampant consumerism. With a skilled analysis of how experts in the fields of marketing, advertising, retail atmospherics, and hand-selling attempt to take away our ability to make rational decisions, Rushkoff delivers a bracing account of media ecology today, consumerism in America, and why we buy what we buy, helping us recognize when we're being treated like consumers instead of human beings.