The Public Relations Profession as Discursive Boundary Work

Bourne, Clea D.. 2019. The Public Relations Profession as Discursive Boundary Work. Public Relations Review, 45(5), 101789. ISSN 0363-8111 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Public relations (PR) has spent more than a century as a professional project, marked by a struggle with adjacent professional fields for market control, social closure and elite status. However, the wider literature on professionalisation lacks a systematic account of how professions discursively construct their boundaries, or how differences in field position can influence a profession’s use of discursive strategies to defend or contest its boundaries. This matters for the deepening of PR scholarship, since an effective exploration of the PR profession must include studies of PR’s jurisdictions and its jurisdictional disputes. This article introduces into PR theory, a discourse analytical framework for deconstructing boundary work between PR and adjacent professions. The discourse framework, and accompanying discussion, answers the call to dismantle silo thinking about PR activity, through a methodology designed to examine PR’s intersections with other fields.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Boundary work, Discourse, Professions, Public relations

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


18 December 2018Submitted
17 May 2019Accepted
6 June 2019Published Online
December 2019Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

29 May 2019 11:06

Last Modified:

04 Aug 2021 09:20

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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