Identity propaganda: Racial narratives and disinformation

Reddi, Madhavi; Kuo, Rachel; Kreiss, Daniel
New Media & Society

This article develops the concept of “identity propaganda,” or narratives that strategically target and exploit identity-based differences in accord with pre-existing power structures to maintain hegemonic social orders. In proposing and developing the concept of identity propaganda, we especially aim to help researchers find new insights into their data on misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda by outlining a framework for unpacking layers of historical power relations embedded in the content they analyze. We focus on three forms of identity propaganda: othering narratives that alienate and marginalize non-white or non-dominant groups; essentializing narratives that create generalizing tropes of marginalized groups; and authenticating narratives that call upon people to prove or undermine their claims to be part of certain groups. We demonstrate the utility of this framework through our analysis of identity propaganda around Vice President Kamala Harris during the 2020 US presidential election.