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"Activism in Paradise": A Critical Discourse Analysis of a Public Relations Campaign against Genetic Engineering
Unformatted Document Text:  “Activism in paradise”: A critical discourse analysis of a public Tracking number relations campaign against genetic engineering. ICA-15-10063 8 engineering were constructed and contested in an attempt to influence the commissioners’ recommendations on policy direction and the future regulation of genetic engineering. Neo-liberal political and economic policies in New Zealand in the 1990s became commonly accepted as normal, to the point where alternative viewpoints had to compete for recognition against this yardstick. Government policy privileged free-market agendas and deregulation and effectively increased the power of corporate business; this also prioritized a reductionist scientific worldview privileging the development of genetic modification technologies. Evidence also suggests that publics are increasingly constructed by organizations as consumers, rather than citizens, a construction frequently accepted by publics themselves (Cheney, 1998). Publics may then be actively engaged in constructing knowledge about issues without necessarily feeling able to take political action. However, neo-liberal political and economic policies have recently been contested (Kelsey, 1997; Leitch, 1994; Scott, 1997; Weaver & Motion, 2002). Additionally, in the submissions and witness briefs presented to the Royal Commission, interest groups and members of the general public sought to legitimate or resist such neo-liberal political and economic discourses, and the power to control the discourse presented an opportunity to control public knowledge. Issues-management and Identity Putnis (1993) criticizes marketing models of political communication for reducing people to the role of consumers, seeing this as incompatible with participatory democracy. He suggests that we should stand back from public relations practice and examine how embedded that practice is in socially constructed reality, how it contributes to constructing that reality. Organizations and interest groups frequently seek to manage the political environment in an attempt to create favorable conditions for their own operations. As Heath (1997) explains:

Authors: Henderson, Alison.
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“Activism in paradise”: A critical discourse analysis of a public
Tracking number
relations campaign against genetic engineering.
ICA-15-10063
8
engineering were constructed and contested in an attempt to influence the commissioners’
recommendations on policy direction and the future regulation of genetic engineering.
Neo-liberal political and economic policies in New Zealand in the 1990s became commonly
accepted as normal, to the point where alternative viewpoints had to compete for recognition
against this yardstick. Government policy privileged free-market agendas and deregulation
and effectively increased the power of corporate business; this also prioritized a reductionist
scientific worldview privileging the development of genetic modification technologies.
Evidence also suggests that publics are increasingly constructed by organizations as
consumers, rather than citizens, a construction frequently accepted by publics themselves
(Cheney, 1998). Publics may then be actively engaged in constructing knowledge about
issues without necessarily feeling able to take political action. However, neo-liberal political
and economic policies have recently been contested (Kelsey, 1997; Leitch, 1994; Scott, 1997;
Weaver & Motion, 2002). Additionally, in the submissions and witness briefs presented to the
Royal Commission, interest groups and members of the general public sought to legitimate or
resist such neo-liberal political and economic discourses, and the power to control the
discourse presented an opportunity to control public knowledge.
Issues-management and Identity
Putnis (1993) criticizes marketing models of political communication for reducing people to
the role of consumers, seeing this as incompatible with participatory democracy. He suggests
that we should stand back from public relations practice and examine how embedded that
practice is in socially constructed reality, how it contributes to constructing that reality.
Organizations and interest groups frequently seek to manage the political environment in an
attempt to create favorable conditions for their own operations. As Heath (1997) explains:


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