'Presencing' and 'Absencing': A Deconstruction of US-based Public Relations Textbooks

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This chapter describes how US-based public relations (PR) textbooks enter a pact with the devil. It outlines their failed aspiration to create the eternal moment of a utopic PR, while ignoring the ‘passing bell.’ The textbooks paint a picture of professional practitioners who contribute to the ‘effectiveness’ of organisations, while being truthful and engaged in symmetric communication. Research on social psychology and management textbooks point in a similar direction. M. Billig argues ‘that social psychology textbooks typically fulfil a conservative function by training students to accept the dominant assumptions of the discipline’. The theoretical interplay of differance and deconstruction facilitates the development of a research design that is sensitive to the constitutive and legitimizing power of textbook communication, while concurrently revealing its vulnerability. The analysis of presencing strategies confirms what critical studies have already established about one-sided and hegemonic reality constructions in textbooks.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPublic Relations, Society and the Generative Power of History
EditorsIan Somerville, Lee Edwards, Øyvind Ihlen
Number of pages14
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Publication date4 Sep 2019
ISBN (Print)9781138317109, 9781138317116
ISBN (Electronic)9780429451287
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2019


  • US-based public relations textbooks
  • public relations
  • textbook communication
  • presencing strategies
  • deconstruction
  • USA


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