Writing PR history: issues, methods and politics

Writing PR history: issues, methods and politics Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to argue that public relations (PR) history‐writing has profoundly shaped the discipline and that its US bias may have limited theoretical developments. The author aims to explore the challenges in writing PR history and to consider some of the strategic philosophical issues and challenges that face historians. Design/methodology/approach – Historical interpretations are shaped by authors' social constructions and thus the paper is written reflexively. The author discusses the way in which histories are structured and patterned by their authors' assumptions and values about the nature of time; human civilisation, progressivism, situationalism, inevitability, human agency, cultural change, flux and transformation. Findings – Existing (largely US) PR historical writing is analysed in terms of its theoretical impact through the “four models” and it is argued that this typology is not appropriately applied to other cultures with different paths of historical evolution. As a way of demonstrating this point, key aspects of British developments in the twentieth century are drawn out to reveal a dozen “models” of PR practice that could potentially form the basis of theoretical research. Originality/value – Overall, the paper contributes a discussion of historical methodology in relation to PR; shows the connection between history and theory‐building in PR; and demonstrates that history from other cultures can reveal alternative models for theoretical development. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Communication Management Emerald Publishing

Writing PR history: issues, methods and politics

Journal of Communication Management, Volume 12 (4): 17 – Nov 14, 2008

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1363-254X
D.O.I.
10.1108/13632540810919783
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to argue that public relations (PR) history‐writing has profoundly shaped the discipline and that its US bias may have limited theoretical developments. The author aims to explore the challenges in writing PR history and to consider some of the strategic philosophical issues and challenges that face historians. Design/methodology/approach – Historical interpretations are shaped by authors' social constructions and thus the paper is written reflexively. The author discusses the way in which histories are structured and patterned by their authors' assumptions and values about the nature of time; human civilisation, progressivism, situationalism, inevitability, human agency, cultural change, flux and transformation. Findings – Existing (largely US) PR historical writing is analysed in terms of its theoretical impact through the “four models” and it is argued that this typology is not appropriately applied to other cultures with different paths of historical evolution. As a way of demonstrating this point, key aspects of British developments in the twentieth century are drawn out to reveal a dozen “models” of PR practice that could potentially form the basis of theoretical research. Originality/value – Overall, the paper contributes a discussion of historical methodology in relation to PR; shows the connection between history and theory‐building in PR; and demonstrates that history from other cultures can reveal alternative models for theoretical development.

Journal

Journal of Communication ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: Nov 14, 2008

Keywords: History; Politics; Philosophy; Research methods; Public relations

References

  • Rethinking power in public relations
    Edwards, L.
  • The power of social capital: adapting Bourdieu to the study of public relations
    Ihlen, O.
  • Challenging accounts: public relations and a tale of two revolutions
    Toledano, M.

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