Public Relations Inquiry as Rhetorical Criticism: Case Studies of Corporate Discourse and Social Influence

By William N. Elwood | Go to book overview

Mobil's Epideictic Advocacy

"Observations" of Prometheus Bound

Richard E. Crable and Steven L. Vibbert

By the end of 1975, the cliché "business as usual" had acquired a whole new meaning for American industry. The American Machine moved no longer through an environment of laissez-faire government and complacent public sentiment. Such a setting, if it had ever existed to the extent imagined by the Machine, had been replaced by a pressure cooker environment heated by the accusations and demands of both government and the public. "Business as usual" had acquired the implications of defense and, perhaps, even defensiveness. As early as 1970, the American Industrial Machine had been charged with despoiling the American Garden of Eden, with polluting and deflowering the pastoral setting that had served as ground for the Machine itself ( Brown and Crable, 1973).

Industry's protest that it either had been helping retain the Garden or was involved in regaining it began to fade with the advent of the oil crisis and the OPEC oil embargo of 1973. One distinguished economist concludes, "With only the treacherous exceptions of political assassinations and international terrorism, no single issue has so shaken America's balance in this turbulent epoch than the amalgam of super- events clumped together in the household headline: 'Oil Crisis'" ( Hazlett, 1982, p. 1). Short on oil and long on lines at service stations, Americans were rudely awaken from their dream that they would always have cheap and plentiful petroleum. In response, the question became not "How may the American Garden be restored?" but rather, "How is what is left of the Garden to be maintained?"

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