Foreign Anti-Mainstream Propaganda and Democratic Publics

72 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2020 Last revised: 23 Feb 2021

See all articles by Matthias Mader

Matthias Mader

University of Mannheim

Nikolay Marinov

University of Houston - Department of Political Science

Harald Schoen

University of Mannheim - Department of Political Science

Date Written: October 9, 2020

Abstract

Illiberal regimes use overt and covert propaganda tools to influence public opinion in democracies. We present an argument about how such propaganda impacts targeted publics. We posit that effectiveness depends on whether the source of the message is revealed, on the foreign or domestic nature of the issue, and on individual characteristics of the recipients. We test these insights in Germany, in the context of Kremlin messaging, using eight survey experiments administered to a large sample of German voters ($n=2,303$). Citizens who mistrust the government, believe in conspiracy theories, or are generally disconnected from politics are vulnerable to propaganda warfare, while the rest of the populace is not. At the same time, providing a pro-Western viewpoint and outing the Russian source are not generally effective counter-measures. We discuss the implications of illiberal regime propaganda for information wars between states and for the internal workings of democratic politics.

Keywords: hybrid regimes, propaganda, public opinion

Suggested Citation

Mader, Matthias and Marinov, Nikolay and Schoen, Harald, Foreign Anti-Mainstream Propaganda and Democratic Publics (October 9, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3708584 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3708584

Matthias Mader

University of Mannheim ( email )

Seminargebäude A5, 6
Mannheim, 68131
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://lspwpp.sowi.uni-mannheim.de/english/team/researchers_and_assistant_lecturers/matthias_mader/

Nikolay Marinov (Contact Author)

University of Houston - Department of Political Science ( email )

TX 77204-3011
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.nikolaymarinov.com

Harald Schoen

University of Mannheim - Department of Political Science ( email )

Mannheim, D-68131
Germany

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