What role does propaganda play in the information politics of authoritarian societies, and what is its relationship to censorship? What have we learned from rival accounts in recent literature about why states produce it? While regimes clearly invest in propaganda believing that it is effective, there is still much to learn about whether, when, and how it actually is effective. We first discuss some of the tensions inherent in distinguishing between persuasive and dominating, soft and hard, propaganda. We then review efforts to understand the conditions under which propaganda changes attitudes and/or behavior in terms of propaganda's content, relational factors, aspects of the political environment, and citizens’ own predispositions. We highlight the need for more research on propaganda in authoritarian settings, especially on how patterns of its consumption may change amid crises, technological shifts, and direct state interventions.

Expected final online publication date for the , Volume 27 is June 2024. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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