Social, Political, and Economic Contexts in Public Relations: Theory and Cases

Social, Political, and Economic Contexts in Public Relations: Theory and Cases

Social, Political, and Economic Contexts in Public Relations: Theory and Cases

Social, Political, and Economic Contexts in Public Relations: Theory and Cases

Synopsis

Two commissions within the Public Relations Society of America have recently defined courses in case-study analysis, research methods, and behavioral-science theory as central to an acceptable public relations curriculum. To date, these three "streams" within PR education have run independently of each other. The authors produced this volume because they believe that there is a growing demand for an integrative "applied theory" approach to the study of public relations cases.

The need for PR professionals to study the social, political, and economic contexts of public relations carefully had been apparent for some time as issues management and environment scanning emerged as focal points of modern public relations. Yet there was no systematic framework for such study. This volume, however, with its strong foundation in theory, provides just that framework and is highly suitable for graduate-level courses in public relations.

Excerpt

In the 1920s,Edward L. Bernays wrote two books, Crystallizing Public Opinion and Propaganda, in which he described why and how the practice of public relations should be based on the theories and methods of the social and behavioral sciences. In 1966,Edward J. Robinson wrote Communication and Public Relations, in which he did the same but in much greater detail. Both Bernays and Robinson filled their books with the prominent theories and methods of their day. Because of that legacy, few educators and practitioners today dispute the idea -- at least in public -- that the profession should be based on the theories and methods of social and behavioral science. In actual practice, however -- in 1922, in 1966, and in 1993 -- far more practitioners talk about theory and research than use it.

When asked why, most practitioners will say they have no time or resources to use theory or research. When I have researched the backgrounds of practitioners, I also have found that few have the education or knowledge to actually use theory or research. Practitioners will also point out that theory has to be made practical -- that they must be given concrete examples of how theory has actually been put into practice. In books and classes on public relations, we often teach theory and practice separately: We expect readers and students to figure out how to integrate the two. Most case study books and courses are especially bad. They describe cases without a theoretical framework to understand and evaluate them.

In Social, Political, and Economic Contexts in Public Relations,Culbertson, Jeffers,Stone, and Terrell have changed the status quo of case studies in public relations. They have provided us a book of case studies that integrates the theoretical and the applied. In the first six chapters, they identify and explain concepts that practitioners can and have used to understand and research the context of a public . . .

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