Dark PR: How corporate disinformation harms our health and the environment

“Think global, act local!” “Be the change you want to see in the world!” “Every little bit counts!” We can all get on board with such sentiments, right? That, of course, is exactly what corporate spin-masters across the world are banking on. By weaponizing such seemingly innocuous yet powerful narratives, change becomes a matter of personal choice, something each of us must slave away at day by day: switching off lightbulbs to save the environment or exercising to shed the weight we’ve gained from consuming junk food. All the while, the corporate welfare tap continues to flow, with over $6 trillion worth of annual subsidies dished out to industries that directly contribute to the deaths of over 5.5 million people each year through diabetes, road deaths, global warming, and other crises. But such framing is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the corporate disinformation playbook. This playbook is the dark matter of activist work: the unseeable element shaping harmful spin across all issues. It has never been reverse engineered – until now.

In Dark PR, Grant Ennis – drawing on his decades of experience working in the environmental, philanthropy, and public health sectors – reveals exactly how multinationals go about hoodwinking and manipulating us. In doing so, he lifts the lid on the nine devious frames contained within the cross-industry corporate disinformation playbook: through denialism, normalization, victim-blaming, multifactorialism, and a variety of other tried-and-tested tactics, corporations divert citizens’ attention away from the real causes of global problems, leading them into counter-productive blind-alley “solutions” like ethical consumerism and divestment. Sadly, though, buying Fair Trade chocolate has not and never will save the world. Only by collectively organizing to lobby our governments can we break this destructive cycle of lies and deadly incentives, and reclaim control of our lives.

ISBN Print: 9781990263484
Publication Date: October 2022
Page Count: 350
Binding Type: Soft-cover
Trim Size: 6in x 9in
Language: English
Colour: Colour

USD $ 32.00

Available on {October 17, 2022}

“Think global, act local!” “Be the change you want to see in the world!” “Every little bit counts!” We can all get on board with such sentiments, right? That, of course, is exactly what corporate spin-masters across the world are banking on. By weaponizing such seemingly innocuous yet powerful narratives, change becomes a matter of personal choice, something each of us must slave away at day by day: switching off lightbulbs to save the environment or exercising to shed the weight we’ve gained from consuming junk food. All the while, the corporate welfare tap continues to flow, with over $6 trillion worth of annual subsidies dished out to industries that directly contribute to the deaths of over 5.5 million people each year through diabetes, road deaths, global warming, and other crises. But such framing is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the corporate disinformation playbook. This playbook is the dark matter of activist work: the unseeable element shaping harmful spin across all issues. It has never been reverse engineered – until now.

In Dark PR, Grant Ennis – drawing on his decades of experience working in the environmental, philanthropy, and public health sectors – reveals exactly how multinationals go about hoodwinking and manipulating us. In doing so, he lifts the lid on the nine devious frames contained within the cross-industry corporate disinformation playbook: through denialism, normalization, victim-blaming, multifactorialism, and a variety of other tried-and-tested tactics, corporations divert citizens’ attention away from the real causes of global problems, leading them into counter-productive blind-alley “solutions” like ethical consumerism and divestment. Sadly, though, buying Fair Trade chocolate has not and never will save the world. Only by collectively organizing to lobby our governments can we break this destructive cycle of lies and deadly incentives, and reclaim control of our lives.

Main arguments

  1. Corporations receive in excess of $6 trillion worth of annual subsidies that directly contribute to the deaths of over 5.5 million people each year through diabetes, road deaths, global warming, and other crises.
  2. In order to stymie government action that might threaten such handouts, corporations use a cross-industry PR playbook consisting of nine frames aimed at influencing public debate: denialism, post-denialism, normalization, silver boomerangs, magic, treatment, victim-blaming, knotted web, and multifactorialism. These frames directly impact how we live our everyday lives, our safety, and how we go about demanding change.
  3. When it comes to bringing about social change, Dark PR shows how PR frames that encourage ineffective solutions are not merely useless but are actively harmful, as they distract people from lobbying for genuine change. Bringing extensive research to bear, this book demonstrates that we can’t “do both” (that is, do “our bit” as individuals while also lobbying for structural change) when it comes to building political will for social movements. Instead, the focus must be on big picture change at a government level.
  4. Alongside such framing, corporations hamstring the attempts of the public to address these issues by misdirecting appeals for government action toward voluntary good deeds and “ethical consumerism.”
  5. To fight back, citizens must collectively organize to demand that their governments end the subsidies that cause diabetes, kill us in car crashes, and poison our environment.

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: Catastrophe by Design
Part I: The Nine Devious Frames
Chapter One: Big Lies
Devious Frame 1: Denialism
Devious Frame 2: Post-denialism
Devious Frame 3: Normalization
Status Quo Maintained by Pseudo-solutions
Chapter Two: Panacea Frames
Devious Frame 4: Silver Boomerangs
Devious Frame 5: Magic
Devious Frame 6: the Treatment Trap
Chapter Three: Victim-blaming (Devious Frame 7)
Fat-shaming
Blaming the Victims of Car-dependency
Green-shaming
Chapter Four: Complicated Frames
Devious Frame 8: Knotted Web
Devious Frame 9: Multifactorial
Political Will is Zero Sum
Part II: Pulling Back the Curtain
Chapter Five: Atomization of Dissent
“Just” Voting: Electoralism
“Just” Protesting: Mobalizationism
“Ethical” Consumerism: Citizen Vs Consumer
Chapter Six: Infrastructure of Dissent
Infrastructure of Dissent
Legal Infrastructure of Dissent
Chapter Seven: False Targets
Corporation-blaming
Overlord-blaming
Multistakeholderism
Chapter Eight: Organize
References

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