Fostering social capital in an international multi-stakeholder issue network

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Scholars have theorized that public relations contributes to societies and communities by bringing attention to pressing public issues and fostering social capital in civil society networks. However, the extant research has studied civil society networks of NGOs, donors, and the media in transitional countries. This study extends the public relations model of civil society in two ways. First, it broadens the scope to an international context. Second, it draws from the multi-stakeholder issue network perspective to conceptualize a civil society network as a space where stakeholders of an issue mix their interests as they collectively address a pressing public issue. The literature on international and multi-stakeholder networks suggest that the international scope and the mixing of interests across sectors may restrict the production of social capital. The results from the social network analysis suggests that the mixing of interests across sectoral and geopolitical boundaries did not restrict the production of social capital. Rather, the patterns of the relationships among those on the core and those on the periphery of the network restricted the production of social capital. Such finding demonstrates how public relations’ functions like relationship building can have profound influences on social capital and civil society networks. The implications for public relations theorizing and research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-296
Number of pages15
JournalPublic Relations Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Civil society
  • International public relations
  • Multi-stakeholder issue network
  • Network-building
  • Social capital


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