Purpose – This paper aims at providing a theoretical perspective to study the effects of the communication management/public relations of organizations on the social cohesion of individuals, groups and societies. Design/methodology/approach – The possible connections between communication management and social cohesion, social integration and diversity are explored by looking at the concept of social capital. After discussing aspects of the hypothesis of decreasing social capital and of the hypothesis of increasing contingency of Western societies, questions are raised about the societal role of communication management as a profession that is usually described as being concerned with building relations. To study questions like these empirically, the actor network theory (ANT) is suggested as an analytical perspective and a methodological approach to elaborate the position of reflective communication management. Findings – ANT or the sociology of associations seems a suitable theoretical perspective for studying the relations between communication management, social capital and social cohesion. ANT sheds a light on fact and meaning construction, on issues of power and framing and on coalition building activities and translation: who is bridging or bonding with whom and with what consequences? Originality/value – Research from the perspective of ANT could result in a comprehensive understanding of communication management/public relations incorporating functionalistic, social psychological, relationship and rhetorical approaches.
Journal of Communication Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 9, 2008
Keywords: Social capital; Communication management; Public relations
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