Phase 1: Posing Real Questions
This is Phase 1, where I will be highlighting the impacts that propaganda influences onto our world and Xizhou. I will also be providing some backstory on my Inquiry Project topic as well as posing some questions that I will be answering on Microcampus. In Phase o, I explored many different topics and made my final selection.
What do I already know?
Propaganda is the spreading of ideas, information, allegations, or rumors for the purpose of dominating society opinion. In literature, writers often use propaganda as an intellectual technique to manipulate public opinion for or against one idea or another. In history, we can find an abundance of literary works used as propaganda to morph public perceptions. The function of propaganda can be seen through media advertising (commercials), politics, literature, and even art. Art is one of the most popular forms of propaganda. Art propaganda is the expression of human imagination, creativity, and sometimes even corruption - it is a very powerful type of communication through posters.
Where did I learn these things?
I learned most of my knowledge of propaganda through art class and social studies. Last year in art, I was taught to convey my understanding of poster propaganda through interpreting, analyzing, and observing. Examining the poster propaganda's methodically helped me understand that color, font, spacing, intensity or lightness, and especially words, are all elements of propaganda that create the main idea. This year in social studies, we had a unit on World War I. I learned about the repercussions and manipulating effects that propaganda had on the public in many different countries.
What do I want to know about this topic?
For my topic, wall propaganda messages in Xizhou, I would like to learn how the citizens of the village reacted to the messages and how they were affected. I hope to dig deeper on how the propaganda has implanted itself into their personal lives in the first place. I wonder if propaganda in the village is a regular occurrence and if the villagers are used to the messages. I also wish to learn if the propaganda has swayed public opinion.
In order to truly develop and understand my topic before getting started on my big questions, I have done some background research that can be found in Phase 3.
My Ten Big Questions:
In order to construct my information gathering in Xizhou, I have developed some questions. The purpose of these questions is to guide and fuel the beginning of my research process in Xizhou. The possible answers that I came up with are in italics and are based on my thoughts and knowledge from my background research. I have also categorized my questions based what they are focused on.
Thoughts of the People:
1. What opinions/judgments do the residents of Xizhou have on the propaganda?
They either agree or disagree with the propaganda. Some people might be in the middle, and drawn to the two opposing sides due to various factors.
2. How do propaganda opinions fluctuate in the village according to age?
On an individual level, people's political views (in this case, understanding propaganda) evolve over the course of their lives. Academic research indicates that not only generations have distinct political identities and views on government messages, but that people's basic outlooks and orientations are set fairly early in life. However, attitudes are malleable, with lots of potential for dramatic changes in perspectives in late adolescence or early childhood. There are colossal differences between groups of people who lived through a historical time period and groups of people who were born after that time period. For example, people who existed during the Cultural Revolution lived through the experiences of Mao's control and their opinions might be more personal and close to home compared to those who do not truly understand what happened.
Visual Interpretation of the Propaganda:
3. What do the propaganda messages say?
I believe that most of the propaganda relates to authority matters in question that connect with activities associated with the governance of Xizhou. It may also correlate to something on a more local level, for example, village concerns like unpredictable weather that can damage harvests, and the propaganda probably displays reassurance.
4. Are there different forms of propaganda (not including posters) in Xizhou?
Mail letters and messages or announcements spread through products are also considered as propaganda. For example, merchandise sponsors are used to promote goods for more recognition. Certain Xizhou specialties may even have propaganda messages from the government.
Citizen Discontent in the Propaganda:
5. Has the propaganda in Xizhou ever been vandalized?
With any movement incorporating propaganda, it is going to have its share of unbelievable ups and it is going to have its share of criticism. Vandalism on propaganda is a common way to show objections towards the message. There possible defacing of the government approved messages are most likely due to citizen displeasure.
6. Have there ever been individual or community protests? If so, to what extent did the remonstrations go to?
Protests are expressions or declarations of objection, disapproval, or dissent. If the walls in Xizhou are still plastered with propaganda messages that mainly advocate negative influences, then there will definitely be dissatisfied individuals that will protest - leading to possible community protests.
7. Why has the propaganda not been removed?
I assume that the propaganda has not been removed due to the fact that the government in Xizhou is dependent on the villagers receiving the specific messages, whether or not they are beneficial or harmful to the community. There is also another possibility that the propaganda has implanted or embedded itself into Xizhou's culture, it is a physical representation of China's history and development. This can either be the command of the government or the traditional beliefs of the residents.
Below are questions I either deleted or altered after my conversations in Xizhou because they do not apply to the community.
8. Are the propaganda posters considered as internal conflicts (disputes between the villagers) or external conflicts (disputes outside from outside the village *government inflicted*)?
Propaganda posters usually relate to political sciences. They can either be international disagreements that can be government inflicted or they can be within a smaller population, which in this case, is the community involving the villagers. The propaganda messages can have worldwide implications from overseas or have contents that were created by the government.
9. How do political typology groups apply to citizen views of the propaganda?
I am incorporating my understanding of American political typology groups into this question. I have chosen two groups (Young Outsiders, and Bystanders) that represent the citizen opinions of propaganda. Young Outsiders are distrustful towards government programs and are fiscally conservative, but very liberal on social issues and not very religious. Through my research, there is a balance of people in China who are skeptical of an activist government; viewing the government as wasteful, inefficient, and corrupted. These are the same views of Young Outsiders. I can infer that the villagers in Xizhou who may be "Chinese" Young Outsiders are definitely not delighted when they see government propaganda disarranging their daily lives. Bystanders are on the sidelines of the political process, they do not register to vote and they pay very little attention to politics. In this case, the Bystanders in Xizhou are the people who do not express interest or worry about the propaganda plastered around. In social characteristics, nearly four-in-ten Bystanders (38%) are under 30. Therefore, the age-range of Bystanders in Xizhou will affect their attentiveness in public affairs.
10. What are the reactions to the propaganda between more flexible groups compared to more pragmatic groups in Xizhou?
The term "pragmatic" relates to a philosophical and political pragmatism, it is defined as dealing with things sensibly and realistically in ways that are based on practical rather than theoretical considerations. In this context, flexible means ready and able to change to adapt to different circumstances. Villagers who are flexible have most likely acclimatized themselves mentally towards the propaganda since they see it everywhere around them; they accepted the true-to-life fact that the propaganda is not going down. On the other hand, pragmatic villagers most likely disagree with the propaganda and wish for it to be taken down. The propaganda messages do not persuade them, they see things logically and hold onto their traditional values and beliefs because they are cautious about change and innovation.
Updated and current questions can be viewed in Phase 3.
In order to make the most of my time in Xizhou, I will need more preparation on my topic. I will research more on the Cultural Revolution, the propaganda involved, and the reactions of the general public. I plan on studying Chinese propaganda so that when I arrive in Xizhou, I can instantly recognize what I have learned in Shanghai.
Now that I have fully productized my ten big questions and their possible answers, I am ready to proceed into Phase 2, where I will be finding helpful resources.