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Appears in Collections:eTheses from Faculty of Arts and Humanities legacy departments
Title: The professionalisation of British public relations in the twentieth century : a history
Author(s): L'Etang, Jacqueline Yvonne
Issue Date: 2001
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: The thesis presents a first account of the development of British public relations in the twentieth century. The focus is on the whether British public relations has managed to 'professionalise'. To a large degree, the story is one of failure, despite the exponential growth of the field. The history of this puzzling contradiction is explored in detail, drawing on previously untapped archives and extensive oral history interviews. The thesis argues that this apparent paradox is explained by the inability of the would-be professional body to establish control over public relations practice. Thus, one of the key features of the thesis is its presentation of a counter-history of the Institute of Public Relations to that body's own selfunderstanding. Turning to the overall development and growth of the occupation, the thesis argues that one of the most significant features of British developments, especially in the first half of the twentieth century, was the large role played by local and central governments and the relatively small contribution of the private sector. Key aspects of British government propaganda in both wartime and peacetime are highlighted and also include activities focused on policies of de-colonisation and economic intervention. The contribution of the British Film Documentary Movement and the collaboration between its leader, John Grierson, and the Secretary of the Empire Marketing Board (EMB), Sir Stephen Tallents, is presented as being of considerable significance, particularly in terms of the development of public relations ideology. The discourse and actions of key figures within the public relations industry are also foregrounded in the overall analysis. Themes include relationships between the public relations industry, the media and politics, ethics, and the ultimately vain attempts of the industry to establish the widespread legitimacy necessary for professional status.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Arts and Humanities
Department of Film and Media Studies

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