Freedom on Film; Economic Education in the 1950’s-1970’s

This project is also discussed at this site:

Education of a Neo-liberal:

Paper Proposal, NCA 2013,

“Freedom on Film”:  Neoliberal Economics and Media Narratives 1950-1980.

The term “economic education” is often used to refer to non-theatrical films, management programs, flyers, pamphlets, and training systems produced in the post-war period by corporations trying to sell the American public on free market capitalism.  Early classics of neo-liberal film production—such as It’s Everybody’s Business (1954)– were implicitly and explicitly anti-union or red-baiting, featuring animated sequences, lectures, or pedagogical narratives about, for example, the “god-given benefits of laissez-faire capitalism.” Although characterized by naïve storylines, industrial economic education films became increasingly sophisticated closed media systems up into the 1980’s, even foreshadowing important contemporary social media. From the 1950’s through the 1970’s these films were screened as part of small group discussions, live managerial performances, and interpersonal training, as well as theatrical exhibition. This paper serves as an overview of non-theatrical film and television genres which invented ingenious and explicit economic narratives from 1950 to 1980.  This paper provides an overview of economic education media narratives; how they were used and distributed in the discursive practices of corporations in this period.


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