Rethinking power in public relations

Lee Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the United Kingdom, popular sceptism about the merits of public relations has prompted self-reflection among practitioners and industry bodies. At the root of the public debate is the assumption that public relations wields unjustified social influence on behalf of already privileged organizational interests. The core concern of this discussion, therefore, is the power that a public relations has in democratic societies. This paper proposes that adopting a relational view of public relations as a profession defined by its relationships will help explicate the nature of power more effectively. Using Pierre Bourdieu's framework of fields, structures, habitus and capital, a more comprehensive picture of how power operates in public relations can be developed, which will give us a new starting point for addressing public concerns. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-231
Number of pages2
JournalPublic Relations Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006


  • Pierre Bourdieu
  • Relational view
  • Symbolic power


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