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Major Events of the 20th Century

September 26, 2011

Propaganda, Mass Media, Communication, Entertainment and Medicine.

There is evidence Propaganda has been around since as early as 515bc ( – this is believed to be an early example) showing it has been part of human activity for nearly as long as we have been around. However, the First World War and Second World War are prime examples and the most commonly thought of when propaganda is brought up.  It was used as a form of censorship so that the public would think it in the way that the government wanted them to, even if it was not all true. This was to ensure that there was a definite hatred amongst people for Germans; of course the same thing happened in Germany against Britain and our allies. The propaganda appealed to people’s emotions so that they would feel inclined to volunteer and help their country. These emotions ranged from making men feel embarrassed that they weren’t fighting for their country or angering women by poster of children being hurt so that the public were motivated or persuaded to join in with the war. I think without this the war would not have been as great as it was.

The media was the obvious form of propaganda whether it was posters ( ), articles in newspapers or on the radio.

 Arguably, mass media of today can be seen as a type of propaganda.  Mass media refers to advertising, movies, internet, newspapers, television, and radio and so on; anything that reaches a large audience. It can be seen as a form of propaganda as it influences how we think about different situations and the way in which we live. The 20th Century brought around the phrase “the media” and changed the full way in which we look at the world. This caused a great impact in the 20th century as mass media was at the influence of all significant events. Many newspapers support particular political parties and therefore influence their readers to think in a certain way thus meaning many or our decisions are made for us. There are many theories which go against or promote this idea. The culturalist theory is one which does not –

The culturalist theory, developed in the 1980s and 1990s, combines the other two theories and claims that people interact with media to create their own meanings out of the images and messages they receive. This theory sees audiences as playing an active rather than passive role in relation to mass media. One strand of research focuses on the audiences and how they interact with media; the other strand of research focuses on those who produce the media, particularly the news.

However, being a part of a generation that is always using mass media whether that is a newspaper or the latest tweet on twitter, I feel that it can in some cases be a form of propaganda. We can be so easily led to believe what others want us to. I think newspapers/magazines are the most prime examples as we tend to accept what we read as true and rely on these sources to inform us of our world.

Obviously mass media relates to communication, as it is advances in communication that allows us to have the amount of media we have today. In 1903 audiences were astounded by the motion pictures that by the 40s became coloured, talking, and motion pictures. Radio and television were also a major part of this movement. Radio allowed communication to travel far and educated thousands, it allowed a greater interest to develop in world news and politics as people could hear what was happening basically as it was happening. Then televisions allowed people to see what was happening live, such as the Queen’s coronation. Global communication was improved by television especially through satellite television. Eventually television has become an essential part of a household so that the world can experience so many great events throughout the world.

My grandparents and parents have both acknowledged the growth in technology, from having to change the channel (a choice of 4) by a dial on the TV to now having choices of hundreds and being able to pause/record and change the channel from one remote. Our generation copes, arguably, more easily with advances in technology as though it is second nature to understand it. I feel communication is a very important part of our society and the world as we use it every day, all because of those advances during the 20th century.

With television, radio and print comes entertainment. These developments permitted audiences to gain pleasure out of mass media. Before this television and movies, art was a major part of entertainment. With many movements in art, it became more exciting as art was no longer just about what was literally in front of you but how the artist felt and became more metaphorical. Architecture changed although with the great depression this was hard to fund. Visual art was extremely important with comics allowing superheroes to come and alive and entertain as well as visual art becoming more dominating in movies and television. There were many ways in which people could gain access to this visual art and this had developed to become an important part of our society today.

Also, music had a significant impact over the 20th century with new sounds coming from across the world, blue, jazz and rock and roll can be seen as the main genres which influenced the early part of the century. Later house, techno, soul and reggae music were introduced. Music lifted people’s moods, especially throughout the war. Concerts could be broadcast throughout the world and records bought.

The older generations of my family always speak about how they would go to the “dancing” and that’s often where they would meet their future spouse. Music provided entertainment through discos, or “dances” at welfare halls and allowed people to socialize easily. Also my papa often reminds me how his first date with my gran was to the cinema, and how magical that experience was seeing life size figures on screen. My papa still watches his favourite movies (cowboy films) on DVD which I think is great and shows the progress film and all technology has made from the early 20th century until now.

The 20th Century also brought huge revolutions in medicine. Huge developments allowed diseases to be treated and the body to be manipulated. Vitamins meant beriberi; rickets, pernicious anaemia and pellagra could be cured through supplements. Insulin had a huge impact on diabetes, although it didn’t full cure it, it could be controlled. Insulin is now used in many ways, helping children and shrinking cancers. The first antibiotic was made which now allows doctors to cure acute diseases. Contraception was invented in forms such as the pill as well as IVF which allows women struggling to conceive to bear children. These developments significantly helped get rid of a lot of diseases which existed in Britain and around the world; this was a huge impact on the world as people became a lot healthier and began to live longer.

I became a lot more interested in the subject of medicine advances while exploring the subject as I didn’t realise to what extent medicine really was developed in the 20th century. Studying higher history had given me an insight as well as some family members. I think this is an important part of the 20th century as these inventions certainly help us today.



 Some useful links 🙂

One Comment
  1. Dianne Barry permalink

    This is excellent work. Great observations – I really enjoyed your writing.

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