The Public Relations Practitioner as Cultural Intermediary

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The public relations practitioner as cultural intermediary. Author: Cornelis A. Coetzee
Table of Contents
1. Introduction2
2. Literature review3
3. Theoretical approach3
3.1 Theoretical perspective3
3.2 Research approach4
3.2.1 Interpretive approach5 Hermeneutics as a metatheory6
4. Postmodernism, globalization and culture in communication: a brief discussion6 4.1 Postmodern communication6
4.2 Globalization and communication7
4.3 Multi-cultural communication8
4.3.1 Culture and cultural identities8
5. Conclusion11
6. Recommendation12
List of figures
Figure 1: Lull’s superculture11
List of tables
Table 1: Functionalism, Conflict and Symbolic Interactionism Theories3 Table 2: Hall’s high and low context culture9

1. Introduction
Sir William L. Bragg said, “The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.” ( Although this quotation is open to much discussion, it seems appropriate when debating the topic of non-Western public relations practice in which the practitioner is acting as a cultural intermediary. This implicates that public relations as a science, and in practice, needs to re-examine its approach towards the publics (organizational and social) in which it functions. But why? Is it merely the foundation for another approach to research the practice of public relations, or does it perhaps hold the core essence of public relations practice in a post-modern ideology? The first and most obvious answer is globalization. The term globalization is simplified by Smith & Smith (2002:Online) as “a shorthand way of describing the spread and connectedness of production, communication and technologies across the world. That spread has involved the interlacing of economic and cultural activity”. This brings the student to the second aspect to answer the questions posed, namely culture. With organizations and society being able to communicate and trade across geographical borders almost instantaneously (via amongst others, satellite, the internet and email), the communicator are also almost instantaneously exposed to different cultures – some of whose customs might have been previously completely unknown to the communicator. Hannerz (2001:58) descriptively explains the marriage of globalization and culture: “It is this particular emphasis (culture), entailing a conception of the organization of cultural diversity as a global mosaic of bounded units, which is most dubious in a world that is to a great extent characterized by mobility and mixture.” Hannerz’ description of a “global mosaic of bounded units” is particularly applicable to contemporary South Africa. Viewed micro-leveled to the international arena, it is the student’s opinion that the internal cultural structures of South Africa can be perceived as a true representation of a multi-national entity representing a “global community” within its geographical borders. This opinion is based on the fact that South Africa acknowledges eleven official languages; representing eleven officially recognized cultural identities. The result is that, within one organizational structure, one can easily encounter all eleven different cultures in one day. A situation which is partly due to migration as a result of socio-economic upliftment and development over the past fourteen years since the first democratic election, and which prompt the subsequent question: does contemporary South Africa, in principle, differ that much from the international arena? In this assignment, the student will discuss the question(s) posed by examining globalization and the post-modern society, focusing on the cultural aspects of communicating across cultures and how it impacts equally on the communication skills of the public relations manager to its publics. This approach will be based on the contemporary...
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