A website intended for the general public, which will disseminate awareness of the persuasive and manipulative strategies used by political communication & video tutorials on manipulative discourse intended for high-school and university students

The results of the project will be made available to the general public through an educational/popular website proposing constantly updated comparative analyses of the manipulative rates of political speeches, and multimedia tutorials to be used by schools and other institutions to make people aware of the manipulation strategies used by political communication.

The pragmatic perspective on textual argumentation, persuasion and manipulation will provide us with the bases for creating some audiovideo tutorials of different lengths on manipulative discourse and on the interaction between explicit and implicit content in advertising and propaganda. The tutorials will be downloadable from the website and available to anyone: typically, schools, university students, but also professional workers in the field and citizens in general.

It is our firm belief that the mastery of implicitation mechanisms improves discourse comprehension and performance skills, awareness of manipulative strategies and democratic consciousness.

The website: OPPP! – Osservatorio Permanente sulla Pubblicità e la Propaganda (Permanent Observatory on Advertising and Political Propaganda)

The entire corpus of annotated texts will also be made available to civil society. Most significant texts, accompanied by their analyses, will be accessible via an improved version of the pilot website, oppp.it (in italian: Osservatorio Permanente sulla Pubblicità e la Propaganda).

This “Permanent Observatory on Advertising and Political Propaganda” can be regarded as a guided version for non-specialists of the interface for scholars, designed to be appealing to the public. 

In a first section of this monitoring website users will access regularly renewed synthetic posts, typically comparing two or more speeches delivered by different Italian politicians on the same topic. Simple graphics will synthesize the respective implicitness rates based on the mentioned fine-grained analyses. 

The analyses results are mainly directed to a non-academic target, but follow-up instruments are systematically proposed and linked to every published discourse rate. The detailed categorization of each implicitation strategy can be reconstructed, repeated and, consequently, verified. 

A second section will contain meta-analyses conducted on the basis of the mentioned data set: for example, on the strategies of implicitness preferred by a particular politician, on the political contents that are more frequently conveyed in an implicit way, or on some diachronic trend. These posts will help readers to interpret data and values within a larger and more complex view. 

Some further sections will present a description of the analysis methods and categories, explained with laypeople’s terms, and at different levels of detail. 

Promotion & Social media strategy

To ensure a real impact in Italian society, the website will be promoted through press office activities and digital PR, aimed at the publication of online and offline articles and at the promotion via radio and tv, including the proponents’ participation in target programs. A strategy of social media marketing will be planned in cooperation with a specialized agency, to spread the contents of the project and the website activities both as organic and as sponsored contents. 

Dissemination of awareness about manipulative communication: an impact on civil cohabitation and on democratic life 

The activity of the website named “Osservatorio Permanente sulla Pubblicità e la Propaganda” will provide the general public with easy-to-understand evidence that political propaganda contains specific linguistic persuasion strategies. The precise nature of these strategies and their being systematically associated with doubtful contents which would not result as convincing if explicitly stated, will be revealed.  

The presentation of comparisons between different politicians, resulting in “honesty marks” publicly given to them in different situations, should provide the whole initiative with a certain appeal even towards those people who are usually less interested in the matter. Hopefully, the existence and notoriety of this public service may induce political actors to slightly reduce the recourse they have to manipulation strategies.  

Needless to say, both results (making the people aware and inducing the politicians to a more responsible behavior) should represent important contributions to the quality of civil cohabitation and to the effectiveness of democracy.