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The virtues masks of propaganda

Les masques de la vertu utilisées par la propagande

Măștile virtuții utilizate de propagandă

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Published on Friday, April 29, 2022


This Conference intends to encourage the participation of researchers from different fields (linguistics, philology, discourse analysis, cultural studies, social work, sociology, philosophy, psychology,  education, politics, etc.)  - coming from Eastern and Western Europe, Québec or other regions of the world  - to reflect upon the value of information in our globalized society. We are proposing to take benchmarks  as the mask of virtue and propaganda, its context and method. Our intention is to recognize and observe them, to  ask questions and analyze them critically in order to develop together criteria for better understanding  them and developing a literacy to orient ourselves.



Since the armed invasion of Ukraine, we see on the screens once again the tragedy of humans struggling to survive a war. At the same time, various speeches and sites justify or invalidate this murderous action. With the help of virtuous statements, propaganda takes its place to lead us to no longer distinguish between what is said and what is done, between what is true and what is false and lying. Virtues are displayed as being at the base of these actions, as supreme values which oblige us to go “towards the good, towards one’s duty, to conform to a moral, religious ideal [...] despite the obstacles” encountered that must be destroyed at all costs. In this way, a doctrine is put forward as an “honourable” logic. This “mass communication strategy [is] aimed at influencing the opinion and actions of individuals or groups through biased information” (Augé, 2007, p. 12) and partial truths. It eliminates in advance all debate and historical contextualization. This simulacrum of information proceeds by omission of certain data and misinformation being often rooted or developed in political correctness.

The recent example of Ukraine shows us that beyond the sole power of words, political and public figures send us messages taken up ad nauseam by the audiovisual and digital media, to propagate the justification of their actions. When there is a difference between their beautiful words and their actions, and when public communication dresses in a mask of virtue to hide it, what is concealed is a distancing from the reality of human life. Would this be the proof of the intellectual cowardice of the public communicator which would thus prevent the conflict of legitimacy between him and the audience? However, in this way, the “illusionist” and non-informative aim of the use of this mask is made visible, thus creating a political or societal theatre, which must be imposed unilaterally since its purpose as “virtuous" is not accepted by everybody. This fabrication is not a literal copy of reality by imitation (mimesis) (Platon), but an action on reality (Aristote), a production of a new “alternative reality”. Is it a bewitchment, a necessary seduction not to see that the king is naked? In this sense, should we be wary of the political appropriation of any self-proclaimed virtue in the public space, which operates through injunctions to silence people and limit their freedom of expression and their right to think, according to their own conscience, the ideas, and words which they must no longer speak or express in all their nuances?

Propagandistic speech wraps around various virtues to mask reality. They talk about peace in order to make war and about economic growth so to pay people a pittance, about corporate social responsibility to circumvent social acceptability, etc. They are not anymore addressing the people but only the population as audiences polarized between the majority and the minorities. According to Tchakhotin (1952), the message conveyed, and the mask used are the responsibility of the person communicating. On the other hand, Ellul (1965) shows that they are the responsibility of the listeners who welcome them without discernment. Meanwhile, the place reserved for the public as citizens is reduced, the audience becomes more and more massive as a digital crowd who are only asked to participate in the planned games of the media and to accept a priori the non-use of their thought or their morality. How effective is a mask of virtue that hides its stakes and for how long? By showing it too much, can we end up blurring the balance between the individual and the collective, the societal and the community, the economy and humans as humans, their humanity, and their common goods? How are they going about camouflaging this action, constructed in the media to validate one and only one point of view and at the same time invalidate another point of view and conceal what would be detrimental to it?

On the other hand, in the general indifference and credulity, the requirement, the injunction to transparency in the public space no longer facilitates one’s interiority and intimacy. We make them “visible” at any costs. When the mask is made even more visible, this obligatory transparency maintains the invisibility of what we don't see anymore because it doesn’t exist in the media eye and in this way denies the existing contradictions and their complexity. Those who play the game are, as a result, at the forefront of the media scene working to have the attention and the applause of the audience. Who are they playing for? However, the exhaustiveness of this visible reduces the real to a unique interpretation, a single reading, impoverishing it. What do they reveal that brings us back to the notions of visible and invisible? In the temple of political correctness that becomes in time propaganda, the left or the right find themselves on the defensive, fragmented as they face new masks:

  • The replacement of one ideology by another;
  • The excessive “moralization” of citizens aimed at exacerbating their guilt;
  • The “depoliticization” of collective and social issues, etc.

Submission guidelines

The abstracts are to be sent 

no later than June 20, 2022.

They cannot exceed 4000 characters (including spaces and titles). The abstracts will be assessed by the scientific committee of the conference and must be accompanied by a short bibliography. They can be written in Romanian, French or English. An official answer regarding the acceptance or rejection of your proposals will be sent by June 25, 2022. The evaluation criteria are the following:

  • Pertinence to the general topic and objectives of the conference;
  • Explicitness of the context of research, critical analysis or practice;
  • Explicitness of the theoretical and methodological bases that endorse the research or field experience.

The papers will be grouped according to their topic as to be presented in different workshops. The presentations will not exceed 20 minutes, being followed by 15 minutes of discussions.

The abstracts should be sent to the following address: ina.motoi@uqat.ca

Request about logistics and to pay the participation fees: anamariafelecan@gmail.com

March 17-18, 2023, by Zoom

Scientific committee

  • Dr. Ligia Tomoiaga, Associate Professor Universitatea Tehnică Cluj-Napoca, Centru Universitar Nord Baia Mare, Romania
  • Dr. Anamaria Falauş, Senior Lecturer, Universitatea Tehnică Cluj-Napoca, Centru Universitar Nord Baia Mare , Romania
  • Ina Motoi, Ph. D., professeure en travail social, Département de développement humain et social, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Québec


  • Aristote(1996) Poétique. Paris: Gallimard
  • Alber, J.-L. (2002). De l’euphémisation: considérations sur la rectitude politique. Dans Les mots du pouvoir: Sens et non-sens de la rhétorique internationale. Genève: Graduate Institute Publications. http:// books.openedition. Org/iheid/2461
  • Augé, F. Étienne. (2007). Petit traité de propagande à l’usage de ceux qui la subissent. Bruxelles : Deboeck
  • Dowek, G. (2019). La vertu des masques. Pour la Science, 500-, 2020. https://doi.org/10.3917/pls.500.0020
  • Ellul, Jacques. (1965, 1973). Propaganda, the formation of men’s attitudes. New York: Vintage books
  • Fiorina, Morris P., 2005, Culture war? The myth of a Polarized America, New York: Pearson Longman
  • Hagège, Claude. (2012). Contre la pensée unique. Paris: Odile Jacob
  • Platon. La République, Livre III. Paris : Folio Essais
  • Tchakhotine, Serge. (1952). Le viol des foules par la propagande politique. Paris: Gallimard


  • Baia Mare, Romania

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


  • Saturday, June 25, 2022


  • masque, vertu, propagande, simulacre, information, littératie, droit de penser


  • Ina Motoi
    courriel : ina [dot] motoi [at] uqat [dot] ca

Information source

  • Ina Motoi
    courriel : ina [dot] motoi [at] uqat [dot] ca


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The virtues masks of propaganda », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, April 29, 2022, https://doi.org/10.58079/18s7

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