Public Relations and Social Theory: Key Figures, Concepts and Developments broadens the theoretical scope of public relations studies by applying the work of a group of prominent social theorists to make sense of the practice. The volume focuses on the work of key social theorists, including Max Weber, Karl Marx, John Dewey, Jürgen Habermas, Niklas Luhmann, Michel Foucault, Ulrich Beck, Pierre Bourdieu, Anthony Giddens, Robert Putnam, Erving Goffman, Peter L. Berger, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Bruno Latour, Dorothy Smith, Zygmunt Bauman, Harrison White, John W. Meyer, Luc Boltanski and Chantal Mouffe. Each chapter is devoted to an individual theorist, providing an overview of that theorist’s key concepts and contributions, and exploring how these can be applied to public relations as a practice. Each chapter also includes a box giving a short and concise presentation of the theorist, along with recommendation of key works and secondary literature.


chapter 1|16 pages


Public Relations and Social Theory 1

part 1|100 pages

Social Changes

chapter 2|21 pages

On Weber

19Legitimacy and Legitimation in Public Relations

chapter 3|22 pages

On Luhmann

Reframing Public Relations as Part of Society’s Evolutionary Learning Processes

chapter 4|19 pages

On Bauman

Power, Ethics and Social Hermeneutics

chapter 5|19 pages

On Beck

Public Relations and Quests for Responsibility

chapter 6|18 pages

On Latour

Actor-Networks, Modes of Existence and Public Relations

part 2|76 pages

Social Forces

chapter 7|19 pages

On Bourdieu

119Public Relations, Positions and Resources

chapter 8|21 pages

On Harrison White

Rethinking Relations in Public Relations

chapter 9|19 pages

On Meyer

Public Relations in a Context of World Society, Soft Actors and Rationalized De-coupling

chapter 10|16 pages

On Giddens

Interpreting Public Relations through Anthony Giddens’s Structuration and Late Modernity Theories

part 3|100 pages

Social Interactions

chapter 11|21 pages

On Putnam

195Bowling Together – Applying Robert Putnam’s Theories of Community and Social Capital to Public Relations

chapter 12|18 pages

On Berger

If Peter Berger Was Doing Public Relations – A Social Constructionist Perspective on Crisis Communication

chapter 13|19 pages

On Boltanski

The Sociology of Critique and Public Relations

chapter 14|20 pages

On Goffman

Researching Relations with Erving Goffman as Pathfinder

chapter 15|21 pages

On Habermas

Communication and Understanding – Key Concepts for Public Relations

part 4|139 pages


chapter 16|21 pages

On Marx

295Capitalism and Public Relations

chapter 17|19 pages

On Dewey

Public Relations and its Eclipse of the Public

chapter 18|20 pages

On Foucault

Engaging with Foucault’s Critical Theory and Methods

chapter 19|20 pages

On Dorothy E. Smith

Public Relations and Feminist Theory at the Crossroads

chapter 20|20 pages

On Spivak

Theorizing Resistance in Public Relations

chapter 21|20 pages

On Mouffe

Radical Pluralism and Public Relations

chapter |6 pages

List of Contributors