n Communicatio : South African Journal of Communication Theory and Research - A postmodern critique of public relations theory and practice

Volume 28, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0250-0167



Public Public relations is defined as the management of communication. However, the theory and practice of public relations are based on a modernist understanding of organisation. Alternative perspectives on the societal and organisational role of public relations are limited. This article explores the contribution of a postmodern critique of public relations, and the differences between modernism and postmodernism, particularly in organisational context. The current debate between critical theory and postmodern critique is also reviewed. Postmodernism is particu larly critical of the public relations focus on strategy and management. It rejects the manager as a rational being who has the ability to determine organisational outcomes through strategies, which are viewed as discursive techniques used to enhance the power of some corporate actors. Modern public relations is a hegemonic practice that interpellates practitioners into the system to legitimise the perspectives and actions of corporate managers as objective knowledge, particularly through discursive practices in organisational media. Finally, the media relations role of public relations is critiqued for its creation of a hyperreality that leads to the creation of a hypercivilisation that has no factual existence. This article concludes with suggestions for a postmodern research agenda and defends the simultaneous use of critical and postmodern theory.

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