ERIC Number: ED244277
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Aug
Reference Count: 0
The Aborted Debate within Public Relations: An Approach through Kuhn's Paradigm.
Olasky, Marvin N.
An explanation for the general disdain for the practice of public relations may lie in textbooks that attempt to communicate methodology, while insinuating philosophy. In 10 surveyed public relations textbooks, the authors have tried to explain the contempt for public relations, but their common failing has been to blame outside forces, contending that the problems of the trade are caused not by the nature of the profession, but rather by a few unfortunate practices. There was one promising moment during the late 1950s and early 1960s when basic questions about the purpose of public relations were being asked. But judging from articles appearing in "Public Relations Journal" during the past half dozen years, it appears this slightly open door to reevaluation has been slammed shut. To learn why this debate aborted 20 years ago, one needs to examine a major argument developed by Thomas Kuhn. His basic building block is the paradigm, a particular theory that dominates a scientific or occupational field. Within an established paradigm, practitioners can get on with their work without being forced to spend time defending the basic principles of the paradigm or the world view that is its base. No theory provides a perfect fit with the facts, but when practitioners begin to understand that the most pressing problems they face have no solution within the old paradigm, questioning of that paradigm begins. The debate aborted because practitioners had developed a comfortable paradigm that was unshaken by social suspicion and mistrust of large organizations apparent since the mid-1960s. A new debate about public relations' purpose is long overdue. (HTH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Kuhn (Thomas)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (67th, Gainesville, FL, August 5-8, 1984).