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Public Relations, Values and Cultural Identity

Edited By Enric Ordeix, Valérie Carayol and Ralph Tench

As organisations seek legitimacy in a fast-moving, interconnected and changing world, how do public relations help them to manage their identity, responsibilities and impact on society? In a more interactive society, organisations need to align their actions with social demands and values. If the main role of public relations is to build trust and influence opinionmakers, media, the public and the political agenda, what are the constraints and limitations at play here, and what is the impact on ethical principles?
The published research shows the profession is facing crucial changes: the existence of new organisational structures better aligned with social demands; the emergence of new techniques for interacting with organisations in a more trustworthy manner; and growing pressure by social groups acting both for and against particular social values, ideas and identities.
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The Challenge of Improving the Public Representation of Mental Illness: A Case Study of Crime Reporting, and a Call for Radical Change

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The Challenge of Improving the Public Representation of Mental Illness

A Case Study of Crime Reporting, and a Call for Radical Change

Joel RASMUSSEN

Örebro University, Sweden

Introduction

This paper continues a theme featured in a case study by Larissa Grunig from the early 1900s, namely the stigmatization of people with mental disorders and strategies for how discrimination can be curbed. Grunig’s (1990) aim was primarily to demonstrate the value of the focus group method for development of Public Relations strategies, with a case study on the stigma of mental illness as empirical example. This paper sets the main focus on the issue of stigmatization of mental illness, and then highlights Public Relations strategies that can be used to improve media reporting from the perspective of equal rights regardless of people’s psychological differences.

A majority of people labeled with mental disorders experience discrimination (Wahl, 1999; Corrigan et al., 2004). Although appearing to have less direct consequences than discrimination in housing or employment, discriminatory media portrayals are serious in that they reproduce stereotypes that underlie harmful self-images, and discriminatory acts which may have real, social and economic consequences. For example, when the media describes a minority as dangerous they are just using words, but the consequences could be that there are repercussions in policy and the legal system, causing ill-deserved human suffering (Smitherman & Van Dijk, 1988).

This paper presents a study of the Swedish online-press and...

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