"Repression of desire required by life in developed countries makes happiness virtually impossible" Sigmund Freud
Supposedly what the above quote by Freud indicates is that by promoting what can be desired by people will make them want to get these things or face virtually unhappy life. Most people cannot survive unhappiness for a long time.
Hence, in a Democracy those in power can learn techniques to control people without guns or prisons. Show them a way to get what is desired and they will follow like the blind follow their dogs.
This is an interesting phenomenon. Can the right advertisements, slogans, and customs take the masses hostage without guns and prisons? I would say yes but of course not everyone may agree.