Public Relations Ethics and Professionalism: The Shadow of Excellence (Hardback) book cover

Public Relations Ethics and Professionalism

The Shadow of Excellence

By Johanna Fawkes

© 2015 – Routledge

244 pages

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Hardback: 9780415630382
pub: 2014-06-22
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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

Current academic thinking about PR and related communication is a lively, expanding marketplace of ideas and many scholars believe that it’s time for its radical approach to be deepened. Routledge New Directions in PR & Communication Research is the forum of choice for this new thinking. Its key strength is its remit, publishing critical and challenging responses to continuities and fractures in contemporary PR thinking and practice, tracking its spread into new geographies and political economies. It questions its contested role in market-orientated, capitalist, liberal democracies around the world, and examines its invasion of all media spaces, old, new, and as yet unenvisaged. The New Directions series has already published and commissioned diverse original work on: PR’s influence on Israeli and Palestinian nation building; its origins in the history of ideas; a Jungian approach to its ethics and professionalism; global perspectives on its professional practice; PR as an everyday language for everyone; as emotional labour; as communication in conflicted societies, and its relationships to cooperation, justice and paradox. We actively invite new contributions and offer academics a welcoming place for the publication of their analyses of a universal, persuasive mind-set that lives comfortably in old and new media around the world.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

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