Bardhan, Nilanjana and Weaver, C. Kay (Eds.). Public Relations in Global Cultural Contexts: Multi-Paradigmatic Perspectives

Article excerpt

Bardhan, Nilanjana and Weaver, C. Kay (Eds.). Public Relations in Global Cultural Contexts: Multi-paradigmatic Perspectives. New York, NY: Routledge, 2011. Pp. 297. ISBN 978-0-415-87285-0 (cloth) $150.00; 978-0-415-87286-7 (paper). $39.95.

Public Relations in Global Cultural Contexts: Multi-paradigmatic Perspectives is a strong collection of essays by "public relations scholars geographically located across three continents, and with cultural roots and affiliations in more" (p. Ix). The collection of essays offers differing perspectives in the global public relations environment in order to bring alternatives to current thinking and research. The strongest review for this edited book may be found in well-articulated excerpts from each chapter that clearly expose the multi-paradigmatic perspectives.

The first chapter, titled "Introduction: Public Relations in Global Cultural Contexts," is where co-editors Bardhan and Weaver introduce each scholar's essay within the context of their aim to (a) "provide space for different theoretical and methodological perspectives to articulate how public relations is implicated in culture building in a globalizing world" and (b) "encourage public relations scholarship to move beyond the approach that equates country with culture, an approach that has so far dominated most theorizing of public relations in the context of globalization" (p. 22). The co-editors clearly articulate that while advocating the value of multi-paradigmatic perspectives in public relations, they do lean toward the critical paradigm in this book because they subscribe to the view that critical theory provides much needed insight into the role that public relations plays in shaping culture in the context of globalization (p. 15).

Chapter 2, "Critical Perspectives in Global Public Relations: Theorizing Power" by Lee Edwards, "couples Arjun Appadurai's theory of the work of the imagination with Pierre Bourdieu's theory of symbolic power to explore how public relations participates in the distribution of power in the context of globalization" (p. 17-18). Edwards argues that the chapter reminds us that

   to examine only normative practicalities of global
   public relations, or only the resistance of
   activist discourses, produces an incomplete representation
   of the effects of public relations in
   global contexts. Recognizing the power of public
   relations discourses to produce new imaginaries,
   or fields of the possible, in the context of cultural
   flows, reveals the multifaceted nature of the
   power exercised by global public relations practices,
   regardless of who initiates them. (p. 45)

In Chapter 3, "How Intercultural Communication Theory Informs Public Relations Practice in Global Settings," Michael Kent and Maureen Taylor argue that

   although most of us will never be able to gain
   expertise about every country and every culture,
   all of us can enact a dialogic orientation that will
   allow us to understand those cultures.... It is
   equally important to understand how diverse
   stakeholders and publics view the world, the
   range of such beliefs, and how our own beliefs
   and ethnocentrisms lead us to see the world in
   incomplete ways. The future of intercultural
   communication is not in knowing where a nation
   or culture falls on a social science dimension or
   scale. Rather, the future of intercultural competency
   is in the ability of practitioners to ask:
   What do different theories of intercultural communication
   provide that will help me to make
   sense of interactions and communication? How
   can I engage others relationally and dialogically?
   (p 71)

Kent and Taylor "conceptualize public relations as an organic process of evolving relationships, an approach that allows a move away from traditional, managerial approaches to international public relations and a move toward a co-creational understanding of public relations as third culture building" (p. …