A Postmodern Turn for Social Media Research: Theory and Research Directions for Public Relations Scholarship

Amanda K. Kennedy, Erich J. Sommerfeldt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

The public relations literature on social media has focused primarily on how social media platforms can be leveraged to the advantage of organizations for relationship building and so-called dialogue with publics. Yet most research has positioned relationships in social media merely as opportunities for information exchange, perpetuating models of public relations grounded in systems theory that ignore power imbalances. Consequently, this article offers insights from postmodernist theories to first deconstruct existing research and then offer suggestions for future social media scholarship. The article argues that social media scholars have privileged dominant rational models of social engagement. Dissensus and disorder, according to Lyotard, may be as legitimate and more liberatory states of discourse for marginalized publics. Postmodern theories of language games and differential consciousness are also positioned as ways in which social media theory and practice may be advanced. The article thus complicates how relationships are theorized in contemporary scholarship and challenges both scholars and practitioners to rethink approaches to social media practice through a postmodern lens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-45
Number of pages15
JournalAtlantic Journal of Communication
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© , Copyright Taylor & Francis.

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