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Communication and PR from a Cross-Cultural Standpoint

Practical and Methodological Issues

Edited By Valérie Carayol and Alex Frame

How should we approach cultural diversity in the workplace? Multinational corporations, transnational project teams and glocalised production and distribution processes raise challenging issues for communication and PR professionals. The complex nature of these communication processes often shows that existing models of cross-cultural or intercultural communication are inadequate to allow researchers or professionals get to grips with the complexity of the interactions encountered.
This book aims to pinpoint and address the apparent limits of many traditional intercultural communication research methods when they are applied to real situations in today’s hybrid and cosmopolitan global organisations. Written by distinguished scholars from around the world, the chapters challenge traditional ways of thinking and established academic categorisations. The chapters are structured around three main lines of questioning: how can we approach multicultural teambuilding situations where culture is a multi-faceted and multi-level dynamic construct linked to identity and experience, rather than ‘simply’ a question of national habitus; how can we study emerging concepts, categories and practices in such situations using culturally sensitive qualitative research methods; and how can we approach the field of PR from very different cultural standpoints?


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PART III CROSS-CULTURAL RESEARCH IN PR: NEW PERSPECTIVES 99 CHAPTER 7 The Meaning(s) and Making(s) of PR: The Potential for Ethnography within Public Relations Research Caroline E. M. HODGES Bournemouth Media School, Bournemouth University, UK Introduction This chapter supports the emerging school of thought within PR, which suggests that more nuanced socio-cultural understandings of PR is both imperative and beneficial in building our knowledge of the interculturality of the profession. Drawing on the definition of culture from the cultural anthropologist, Clifford Geertz (1973: 89), culture will be considered here as an “historically transmitted pattern of meanings” (symbolic and linguistic) which groups use to communicate, develop and transform knowledge about and attitudes towards life. I will suggest that public relations is fundamentally concerned with creating meaning (Daymon and Hodges, 2009). Drawing on Geertz’s definition above, I will argue that each example of public relations activity will be formed through the values, attitudes and beliefs that shape the context in which it develops (Edwards and Hodges, 2011; Hodges, 2006). This chapter will draw upon, and further develop, Jacquie L’Etang’s anthropological “imaginings” of PR (L’Etang, 2010, 2011) to consider the value of ethnography within public relations scholarship and practice. It will then go on to discuss the work of Caroline Hodges (2011, 2006) and Caroline Hodges and Christine Daymon (Daymon and Hodges, 2009), as examples of how ethnographic methods have been applied within PR to explore, in particular, PR occupational, or practitioner (“PRP”), culture(s). The discussion will be framed within...

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