Jacques Ellul’s “Anti-Democratic Economy:” Persuading Citizens and Consumers in the Information Society

  • Artur Matos Alves Universidade Atlântica CECL, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Keywords: Jacques Ellul, Ivan Illich, Vance Packard, propaganda, consumer, citizen, ICT, cyber-politics, colonization,


Jacques Ellul's thoughts on the increasingly conspicuous role of persuasion techniques bring to the fore the persuasive and normative effects of new communication techniques at the core of contemporary consumer/citizen culture, as well as the limits of that instrumental stance towards mediated human communication. By drawing insights from authors who shared some of Ellul's concerns, such as Frankfurt School theorists, Vance Packard and Ivan Illich, this paper explores this “normative invasion” of human life by technique as a feature of contemporary information technology politics, specifically in (1) the historical context of normative and material technological colonization, and (2) the intertwining of propaganda and information warfare in the current reshaping of information politics.

Author Biography

Artur Matos Alves, Universidade Atlântica CECL, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Auxiliary Professor in the Department of Sciences and Technologies of Information and Communication of the Atlântica University. Researcher in CECL, New University of Lisbon,