Public Relations Ethics and Professionalism

The Shadow of Excellence

By Johanna Fawkes

© 2015 – Routledge

244 pages

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415630382
pub: 2014-06-22
US Dollars$160.00

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About the Book

Do professions really place duty to society above clients' or their own interests? If not, how can they be trusted? While some public relations (PR) scholars claim that PR serves society and enhances the democratic process, others suggest that it is little more than propaganda, serving the interests of global corporations. This is not an argument about definitions, but about ethics - yet this topic is barely explored in texts and theories that seek to explain PR and its function in society.

This book places PR ethics in the wider context of professional ethics and the sociology of professions. By bringing together literature from fields beyond public relations - sociology, professional and philosophical ethics, and Jungian psychology - it integrates a new body of ideas into the debate. The unprecedented introduction of Jungian psychology to public relations scholarship shifts the debate beyond a traditional Western 'Good/Bad' ethical dichotomy towards a new holistic approach, with dynamic implications for theory and practice.

This thought-provoking book will be essential reading for students, academics and professionals with an interest in public relations, ethics and professionalism.


'An unusual and original book which will become a classic point of reference; Jo Fawkes brings a new dimension to public relations literature. Not only does she present a critical and comprehensive overview of key issues and debates, but also a reflexive piece of writing that draws in compelling autobiographical insights. This highly readable book explores public relations through a rich combination of philosophical, sociological, and psychological and psychoanalytical literature to provide a multi-level layered analysis.'

Jacquie L’Etang, Professor, Queen Margaret University, Scotland

'Johanna Fawkes’s application of Jungian ideas relating to the ‘fragmented self’, the ‘contradictory messiness of being’ and the ‘shadow’ to an exploration of professionalism – and Public Relations ethics in particular – is dazzlingly original. Moreover, her presence throughout as the overtly subjective, deeply questioning, fallible, researcher makes this text both intellectually enriching – and profoundly moving.'

Richard Lance Keeble, Professor, University of Lincoln, UK

'This volume is required reading, explicating ethics and performativity. Johanna Fawkes situates responsibility within a being that is embodied, thoughtful, and informed by a textured Jungian perspective.'

Ronald C. Arnett, Chair and Professor, Department of Communication & Rhetorical Studies, Duquesne University, USA

'Dr. Fawkes will have none of the ethical prancing of public relations and delivers a powerful and personal narrative that takes us to the wild side of Jungian psychology and shadowy public relations. It fruitfully helps us deal with duality, complexity and contradiction.'

Øyvind Ihlen, Professor, University of Oslo, Norway.

'You learn most about ethics not through smooth presentations that try to package the latest theory, but through the juxtaposition of perspectives that make you stop and think. This book makes you stop and think. Johanna Fawkes does that by bringing together a profession often characterised by surface image with the writings of Jung, who invites us to go deep, to look behind the image, at narratives most often not examined. She does this brilliantly, enabling the reader to interrogate and integrate theory and practice. This forms a challenge to the Public Relations profession, but goes beyond that, raising questions about professional ethics in general, not least about the relationship between integrity, image and identity. It is a book both intellectually stimulating and practically honest and clear, and should be on the book shelves of all researchers, teachers, consultants and practitioners in this area.'

Simon Robinson, Professor, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK

Table of Contents

1. Messy Ethics: Introduction 2. What’s Wrong with PR Ethics? 3. Trust Me, I’m a Professional 4. To Serve Society 5. Does Public Relations have Professional Ethics? 6. Into the Psyche 7. Depth Ethics 8. Re-Imagining Professional Ethics 9. The Shadow of Excellence 10. What Next? Reflections and Directions

About the Author

Johanna Fawkes is Senior Lecturer in Public Relations at Charles Sturt University, NSW Australia and Course Director for the Doctor of Communication. She has led PR degrees in the UK since 1990, advised the CIPR, and published in international journals and leading text books.

About the Series

Routledge New Directions in Public Relations & Communication Research

Present academic thinking about PR and related communications reflects an unprecedented expansion and ferment in the discipline and many scholars believe that a radical ‘turn’ should be explored. Routledge New Directions in PR & Communication Research is a new forum for books of original research in this area. Its remit is to publish critical and challenging responses to continuities and fractures in contemporary PR thinking and practice, and its contested role in market-orientated, capitalist, liberal democracies around the world. The series reflects the multiple and inter-disciplinary forms PR takes in a post-Grunigian world; the expanding roles which it performs, and the increasing number of countries in which it is practised. Offering a new forum to debate these changes with peers around the world, it invites contributions from both established and new academics researching and teaching in these expanding fields of study.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Business Communication / General
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Public Relations
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Communication Studies