Learning by What Example?
Educational Propaganda in Twenty-first-Century China
The moral education of the people has been viewed historically
as a function of good government in China. Models have
played an important role in this educational process,
constantly making people aware of correct behavior and
correct ideas. Since 1949, so-called propaganda art
in the People's Republic of China has played a major
supporting role in the many campaigns that have been
designed to mobilize the people, with the propaganda
poster being the favored vehicle to convey model behavior.
In the twenty-first century, state-inspired education
and the posters it produces are fighting an uphill battle
to grasp the attention of the people. This illustrated
article discusses the state of state-sponsored propaganda
art and highlights the various social and artistic pressures
that weigh on the propaganda poster in the era of reform.
The author examines the changes in the government's
communication strategy, and focuses on the changing
way in which propaganda art has been used in the reform
era, the technical innovations that have been applied,
and the topics that have been selected by the government
as subjects for propaganda campaigns. The patriotism
of the late 1990s is a topic that receives special attention.
Finally, hypotheses are presented about the possible
alternative applications of the medium in the light
of recently published propaganda posters.
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