‘Don't miss your great opportunity’: patriotism and propaganda in Second World War recruitment

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Abstract:

During the Second World War, poster artists used visual metaphors to help promote actions and behaviour in the American public. Many campaigns were specifically targeted at women, encouraging them to enter the civilian and military workforce. This paper analyses the female recruitment poster campaigns of the Navy and Coast Guard. It argues that the posters successfully used specific visuals to counteract rumours about the character of military women, employing such familiar modes as the pin-up to craft an image of women which both appealed to the recruits and reassured their family members. By employing and subverting traditional notions of femininity, the Navy and Coast Guard were able to convince 1940s women to serve their country in a non-traditional way. The paper offers an example of how effective propaganda can be used to both inspire changes in behaviour while at the same time reinforce societal norms.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1472586X.2012.717750

Publication date: November 1, 2012

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