Critical Theory in Public Relations Inquiry Future Directions for Analysis in a Public Relations Context
Kathleen M. German
The practice of contemporary rhetorical criticism reflects its grounding in social formations ( Ehninger, 1968); critical theory extends this orientation. In spite of the density of original writings and the complexity of fundamental concepts, critical theory increasingly informs investigation into communication as a social activity, adding to our understanding of cultural phenomena. The aim of the critical theory is to comprehend the formations of social culture by examining communication.
To the extent that public relations contributes to social formations through communicated messages, it can be explored with the critical theory perspective. We may come to terms with the rhetoric of organizations by adapting the critical theory model of public dialogue. It raises challenging questions of authorship, intent, audience, and responsibility. Most important, in an age of unequal access to channels of mediated public communication, it also addresses the problem of individuals engaging organizations in public debate. This essay first establishes the basic tenets of critical theory, then applies it to some of the case studies presented in this book, and, finally, offers suggestions for future investigation.
In brief, critical theory stimulates reflection on human society in order to discover how people should live. Its aim is to liberate thought