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Coercion: Why We Listen to What "They" Say Paperback – October 1, 2000
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Marketing continues to grow more aggressive, and Rushkoff tracks the increasingly coercive techniques it employs to ingrain its message in the minds of consumers, as well as the results: toddlers can recognize the golden arches of McDonald's, young rebels get tattooed with the Nike swoosh, and news stories are increasingly taken verbatim from company press releases. "Corporations and consumers are in a coercive arms race," argues Rushkoff. "Every effort we make to regain authority over our actions is met by an even greater effort to usurp it." As he surveys the visual, aural, and scented shopping environment and interviews salesmen, public relations men, telemarketers, admen, and consumers, Rushkoff--who admits to being one of "them" in his occasional capacity as paid corporate consultant--concludes that "they" are just "us" and that the only way the process of coercion can be reversed is to refuse to comply. "Without us," he assures, "they don't exist." --Kera Bolonik --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
Rushkoff's first book about digital culture, Cyberia, was canceled by Bantam in 1992 because they thought the Internet would be "over" by the time the book came out in 1993. It came out the next year with HarperCollins. When he told his publicist there about listing the book on Amazon, she replied "that sounds great! Is Amazon for the Mac or the PC?"
Top Customer Reviews
But he hasn't turned into a pessimist; he still thinks we can break the cycle, and this book is supposed to help us do it. And given his subject, he writes with a refreshing lack of paranoia: he's well aware that all of these techniques are (a) based on common features of "human nature" that ordinarily serve us just fine, and (b) used all the time, to some degree, by all of us. "We are all coercers," he says," and we are all coerced."
As you read the book, it will help to be aware of something Rushkoff doesn't actually get around to explaining until his closing chapter: by "coercion" he means the sort of "persuasion" that is intended to make it difficult or impossible for us to exercise our better judgment -- as distinguished from genuine, no-scare-quotes persuasion, which engages our reason rather than trying to short-circuit it. Bear that in mind if you think -- as I initially did -- that he's confusing coercion and persuasion.
What he's actually talking about is what people of approximately my generation would at one time have called a "mind-cop." (That term, by the way, has very nearly the same literal meaning as "geneivat da'at," or "stealing the mind" -- a term used in Jewish law for certain sorts of deception.Read more ›
Basically, Rushkoff provides numerous examples in each category of how individuals and organizations take advantage of the psychology of human beings. For example, we are more easily persuaded if we regress to when we were younger (and more susceptible to appeals to authority), transfer our feelings to an authority, or listen to certain music or smell certain smells (e.g., bake bread when trying to sell your home).
All told, this book will help the reader to better deconstruct the capitalistic environment that is built on persuasion or coercion of some sort. I also recommend the "Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert Cialdini. Read Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" for a trenchant analysis of the rise of television (and its iatrogenic effects).
Rushkoff offers insights from his own consulting career, revealing that issues aren't as simplistic or ideologically pure as is sometimes portrayed (the 'response to critics' and 'juicy inside gossip' hot-buttons).
The index and bibliography are well worth pursuing, including Philip Kotler's seminal 'atmospherics in shopping malls/casinos' work, Noam Chomsky's de-construction of thought control in 'democratic' societies, Peter Watson and Christopher Simpson's review of psychological warfare techniques used on domestic populations (car salespeople using CIA interrogation manuals to increase sales), or Robert Dilt's study of the neurological basis of NLP (the 'appeal to authority', 'appeal to power', and 'appeal to specialist, esoteric areas' hot-buttons).
In an escalating arms race, it's no longer just persuasion (Vance Packard) or influence (Robert B. Cialdini), but coercion. Buy a copy for yourself and one for your friends! (the 'if all else fails, make the buyer feel fearful' hot-button).
Have I coerced you into pressing 'buy' yet?
My main qualm about the book though is the confusion that the author seems to be in (I cannot phrase any better). I will explain what i mean. With some good editing this book could have been cut down to 1/3, leaving out all the unimportant case histories (stories of friends and acquaintances of the author) that do not help illustrate the points the author is trying to make, the self-referential info and Rushkoff's "dear-diary" ponderings. It could then have been a near perfect overview of the techniques and going by the name of "coercive techniques" instead.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Reveals how the manipulation of media and media statements is in its effect, very coercive. Rushkoff is an excellent writer making the book both enlightening and highly readable. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Leonard
it's a pretty nice break from the textbooks of my other classes. it's more of a novelPublished 17 months ago by Jon
wake up and read this!!, it happens to everyday people I was fooledPublished 18 months ago by Krystine T. Habel
In our consumer driven market no effort is spared to acquire as much of everyone's "disposable income" as possible. Read morePublished on July 25, 2011 by Johann Grimm
I found this book a bit dated. I also found the prose paranoid and dense. The overall effect wasn't compelling, much less coercive.Published on February 7, 2011 by Rob Fitzgibbon
Even those of us who believe ourselves to be savvy consumers, and strive to be rational beings, are prey to subtle forms of manipulation that affect not only what we buy, but how... Read morePublished on February 14, 2010 by M. A. Beauchamp
This book by Douglas Rushkoff provides a solid and useful analysis of how influence specialists shape our physical environments and our thoughts in order to try to direct our... Read morePublished on February 9, 2010 by Irfan A. Alvi