DavidsonPRRAgonAristophanesAntigone.docx.pdf (299.05 kB)
Made by a Human like You or Me: Back to the Greek classics to further develop the Rhetorical Paradigm of Public Relations
journal contributionposted on 2020-03-09, 11:48 authored by Scott Davidson
The first aim of this paper is to establish some of the core assumptions and concepts that have been used to build the rhetorical paradigm for developing public relations theory. The key tenets of this paradigm are deployed to enable some critical reflection on the value of the model, and particularly the work of Heath, for scholars who accept that public relations is constituted by persuasive discourses and perpetual competition between opposing interests and values. The second aim of this paper is to explore the question of where next? How do we develop the rhetorical paradigm and take it into new directions and allow it to embrace new problems? This paper will attempt to do this by applying agonistic theories of democracy. To mirror how Heath has drawn on classical writers such as Aristotle, Isocrates and Quintilian, this paper will also draw on classical texts: Firstly, through the satirical drama and social commentary in the writing of Aristophanes; and then through Honig’s work in reinterpreting Sophocles’ play Antigone. Agonism derives from the ancient Greek word agōn - a contest or struggle. A key priniciple of classical agonism is that protagonists should seek to win acclaim and admiration by performing openly in public, and it extols plurality above dispassionate deliberation. This suggests some resonance with the dominant assumptions of the rhetorical paradigm, but more modern forms of agonism make post-foundationalist assumptions of the impossibility of any consensus existing beyond precarious hegemonic relationships. They also hold to a radical pluralism that when applied challenge widely-held assumptions that ethically grounded public relations practice is that which seeks to eliminate conflict in favour of seeking consensus. Fusing agonistic cooperation with Heath’s notion of concurrence is suggested as a means of integrating critical theory into the rhetorical paradigm.
CitationScott Davidson, Public Relations Review, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2020.101888
Author affiliationSchool of Media, Communication and Sociology
- AM (Accepted Manuscript)