PR and governmentality : exploring the relationship between PR and Neoliberalism

JACKSON, Russell (2015). PR and governmentality : exploring the relationship between PR and Neoliberalism. In: Public Relations: critical perspectives, edgework and creative futures, Queen Margaret University, 24-25 August 2015. (Unpublished)

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The maturation of the academic discipline of public relations is signalled by its relatively recent 'socio-cultural turn' (Edwards & Hodges, 2011) and the opening of a 'post-paradigmatic space' (L'Etang & Pieczka 2014). While Motion and Leitch in particular have introduced Foucauldian insights and critique into the study of public relations there is scope to utilise the work of Michel Foucault further, particularly his work on 'governmentality'. PR tends to be described either positively, as a representative, stakeholder-engaging mechanism for open and clear symmetric communication between different interested parties, or critically as a modern method of propaganda utilised to foster changes in attitudes and /or behaviours which benefit the powerful. However, this binary characterisation continues to be problematised from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. From a governmentality perspective, government is defined broadly as 'the conduct of conduct', with an emphasis on the critical analysis of 'governmental technologies and rationalities' in contemporary societies. Governmental technologies include both 'material and symbolic devices', treating 'discourses, narratives and regimes of representation' - and thus PR's persuasive practices - as 'performative practices' which include 'practical mechanisms, procedures, instruments and calculations through which authorities seek to guide and shape the conduct and decisions of others in order to achieve specific objectives' (Lemke, 2007). Studying governmentality also concerns 'the production of new concepts' (Dean 2010). Within a context of hyper-neo/advanced liberalism, rising inequality and global warming, emerging techniques and rationalities of governing continue to redefine power relations: Governmentality is seen as a potentially fruitful theoretical perspective for exploring the role of public relations in these processes and developments and in furthering the 'socio-cultural turn' within public relations.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Communication and Computing Research Centre
Depositing User: Russell Jackson
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2016 11:23
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2016 23:30

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