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Reflective Communication Management, a Public View on Public Relations
Unformatted Document Text:  18 nature, it is more significant to say that man constructs his own nature, or simply, that man produces himself. This self-production is always, and of necessity, a social enterprise, as Berger and Luckmann (1966) argue. Men together produce a human environment, with the totality of its socio-cultural and psychological formations. It may be that a given social order precedes any individual organism’s development. But social order is still a human product, or, more precisely, an ongoing human production. By playing roles, the individual participates in a social world. By internalizing these roles, the same world becomes subjectively real to him. Roles represent institutional order. Some of these, however, symbolically represent that order in its totality more than others do. Such roles are of great strategic importance in a society, since they represent not only this or that institution, but the integration of all institutions in a meaningful world. These are the roles that have a special relationship to the legitimating apparatus of society. Historically these roles have most commonly been located in political and religious institutions. This is no longer the case, however; it is said that NGOs and corporations now have more power than politics and religion. According to Berger and Luckmann (1966:110), legitimation (the term is from Weber) as a process is best described as a "second-order" objectivization of meaning. Its function is to make objectively available and subjectively plausible the "first-order" objectivizations that have been institutionalized. It embodies the institutional order by ascribing cognitive validity to its objectivized meanings and justifies them. But in the modern world there is always a rivalry between definitions of reality. Social structure can predict its outcome. That is why, in our view, communication management must be studied from a public point of view. In communication science, as well as in organization science, symbolic interactionism has recently inspired some scholars to take a constructionist view of reality. German communication scholars have recently introduced a constructivist approach to public relations theory (Bentele, 1997; Bentele & Rühl, 1993). The basic premise of this view is that human beings reflect the other to themselves, and social reality in a dynamic process. Thus, constructing social reality is a shared process of meanings construction (Bentele & Rühl, 1993). In this view reflective interpretation and conceptualization of meanings are at the forefront in a constant process of de- and re-construction (Van Nistelrooij, 2000:275), they are a “reflection.” Krippendorf (1994), a constructionist communication scientist, mentions the “recursiveness” of communication: it is an ongoing social process of de- and re-construction of interpretations. That is why Faulstieg (1992) and other constructionist public relations scholars state that public relations is not interaction between human beings, but societal action as such. 4. Reflective communication management

Authors: Van Ruler, A. A. Betteke. and Vercic, Dejan.
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18
nature, it is more significant to say that man constructs his own nature, or simply, that man produces
himself. This self-production is always, and of necessity, a social enterprise, as Berger and Luckmann
(1966) argue. Men together produce a human environment, with the totality of its socio-cultural and
psychological formations. It may be that a given social order precedes any individual organism’s
development. But social order is still a human product, or, more precisely, an ongoing human production.
By playing roles, the individual participates in a social world. By internalizing these roles, the same world
becomes subjectively real to him. Roles represent institutional order. Some of these, however,
symbolically represent that order in its totality more than others do. Such roles are of great strategic
importance in a society, since they represent not only this or that institution, but the integration of all
institutions in a meaningful world. These are the roles that have a special relationship to the legitimating
apparatus of society. Historically these roles have most commonly been located in political and religious
institutions. This is no longer the case, however; it is said that NGOs and corporations now have more
power than politics and religion. According to Berger and Luckmann (1966:110), legitimation (the term is
from Weber) as a process is best described as a "second-order" objectivization of meaning. Its function is
to make objectively available and subjectively plausible the "first-order" objectivizations that have been
institutionalized. It embodies the institutional order by ascribing cognitive validity to its objectivized
meanings and justifies them. But in the modern world there is always a rivalry between definitions of
reality. Social structure can predict its outcome. That is why, in our view, communication management
must be studied from a public point of view.
In communication science, as well as in organization science, symbolic interactionism has recently
inspired some scholars to take a constructionist view of reality. German communication scholars have
recently introduced a constructivist approach to public relations theory (Bentele, 1997; Bentele & Rühl,
1993). The basic premise of this view is that human beings reflect the other to themselves, and social
reality in a dynamic process. Thus, constructing social reality is a shared process of meanings
construction (Bentele & Rühl, 1993). In this view reflective interpretation and conceptualization of
meanings are at the forefront in a constant process of de- and re-construction (Van Nistelrooij, 2000:275),
they are a “reflection.” Krippendorf (1994), a constructionist communication scientist, mentions the
“recursiveness” of communication: it is an ongoing social process of de- and re-construction of
interpretations. That is why Faulstieg (1992) and other constructionist public relations scholars state that
public relations is not interaction between human beings, but societal action as such.
4. Reflective communication management


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