Serendipity. My favourite word and I enjoying recognising its catalysing effects. Having noticed L’Etang‘s Sports Public Relations in the library’s ‘new’ section, I signed it out to skim through over lunch. It fell open on the final chapter which considered a philosophical framework that applied habitus to the discipline and context in an appealingly direct way. This in turn led me to Ihlen (2007, pp.269-274) who has researched how public relations strategies might be used by organisations (actors) ‘struggling and competing to position themselves in so-called fields with the help of different forms of symbolic and material resources, and L’Etang (in Edwards and Hodges, 2011, pp.17-24) who sees opportunities in investigating the ‘role public relations plays in the social construction of reality’ and encourages an anthropological approach in exploring ‘micro-cultural formations’. The theme is developed by Edwards (2011) who reflects on public relations activities that are ‘felt deep within the fabric of society and affect our habitus: the beliefs, values and attitudes that we hold about our roles as consumers, voters, citizens, students…’. She goes on to critique public relations from a socio-cultural perspective and in particular the dominant values and acquisition of symbolic capital that are particularly suited to the dominant ‘PR personality’ and social circumstances. I hadn’t considered the impact of an organisation on the dispositions of publics in this way before – habitus was too intangible. It is encouraging to find related research and the readings have helped organise my thoughts around related concepts of field and capital. The final piece in today’s puzzle led me back to a employability capital compass model that Solent is developing and which is heavily influenced by ‘Bourdeauvian perspectives’ (to borrow from Edwards). In the model and using ideas developed by Puttnam (2000), social capital is further divided into bonding capital (links with people like me) and bridging capital (links with people unlike me) which very neatly coincides with some of my initial ideas on researching field habitus and takes me a little further forward.
Edwards, L. and Hodges, C. (2011) Public Relations, Society and Culture. London, Routledge.
Ihlen, O. (2007) Building on Bourdieu: A sociological grasp of public relations. Public Relations Review.
L’Etang, J. (2013) Sports Public Relations. London, Sage.
Puttnam, D. (2000) Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York, Simon and Schuster, 2000.