Did democracy just get downgraded (yet again)?
Social engineering is now a dated practice, that has undoubtedly influenced nearly all our lives for the past century in ways that many of us perhaps don't notice.
I have a book titled Social Control from 1901, by Edward Alsworth Ross, that as the dust jacket explains, "formulated (and gave an answer to) the problems of the massive transformation of the American society by industrialization" where Ross "analyzed the dynamics of social change for modern socieities in general and for America in particular." The book was a hit, and influenced economists, scholars, politicians and Progressives.
In the decades that followed, P.R. gurus like Edward Bernays and Ivy Lee pioneered the use of spin, advertising, propaganda, cross-branding and quite a few subtle tricks of undue persuasion to sell a consumerist society to the masses, and create a marriage of the mind between their clients and the people who would come to depend upon and identify with their products.
The BBC has an excellent mini-series called the Century of the Self that explains the huge impact that Edward Bernays and Madison Avenue had in transforming America. Using psychology to fuel market research and advertising to reach customers on a more potent level, society became populated with suggestible, obedient naive sheep, with critically thinking citizens fewer and further between.