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Foucault, Discourse, and the Birth of British Public Relations



This article analyzes the emergence of public relations among corporations in interwar Britain. It adopts a discursive approach and applies the philosophy of Michel Foucault. It argues that public relations was a result of state propaganda during World War I, the emergence of a mass-media society, and criticism from a range of groups toward corporations during the period. It acted as an emergent institutional text, which taught corporations how to create corporate identities so as to garner public good will and institutional legitimacy. This was achieved by a range of strategies, including social programs and the creation of corporate narratives.

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