Cultivating listening spaces for civil society: Reorienting public relations amid Hannah Arendt's urgent pluralism

Luke Capizzo, Erich J. Sommerfeldt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The article explores how the ideas of Hannah Arendt can further public relations’ understanding of organizational listening and its role in civil society. We draw on three major theoretical concepts from Arendt and scholars studying her work—plurality, interspaces, and lamp holders—and contextualize them within existing civil society research in public relations. Reading Arendt into organizational listening and civil society literature yields insights for how public relations contributes to the maintenance of structures and spaces for deliberation and civil society. Her theory points toward the concepts of bracketing and unbracketing as ways to enter civic spaces with an awareness of power and identity. As research on organizational listening has yet to fully identify how listening can contribute to supporting representative deliberation in polarized societies, this paper helps to theoretically position listening within civil society and provides initial suggestions as to how civic-minded listening can be incorporated into public relations practices aimed at building community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102351
JournalPublic Relations Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by a Page Legacy Scholar Grant from the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication at the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at The Pennsylvania State University (USA). Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do no necessarily reflect the views of Penn State.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Inc.


  • Civil society
  • Deliberative democracy
  • Hannah Arendt
  • Organizational listening
  • Public relations


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