Category Archives: Encylopedia entry

Symbolic capital

After having traded in social capital for what seems like an eternity, I have opted out in unknown terrain with an entry on symbolic capital for The International Encyclopedia of Strategic Communication. Symbolic capital concerns reputation and has roots in the other forms of capital that a social actor might possess, including social, economic and cultural capital. The notion invites a perspective on how organizations attempt to position themselves in different contexts where different types of capital are appreciated. In some fields, like business, your symbolic capital is closely tied to your ability to make a profit. In others, like academia, a different hierarchy is in place with roots in your education, publications, and so forth. Strategic communication and public relations can be seen as organizational activities aimed at building and securing the symbolic capital of organizations in their respective fields as they make up the social world.

Ihlen, Ø. (in press). Symbolic capital. In R. L. Heath & W. Johanesen (Eds.), The international encyclopedia of strategic communication. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.



Framing and strategic communication

Framing is probably the most popular analytical concept within communication studies. Together with Eva-Karin Olsson (Swedish Defence University) I have written an entry for the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Strategic Communication on the link between framing and strategic communication. The entry defines the concept and traces its use with a particular focus on the relevance for strategic communication. The basic attraction of framing lies in how frames provide direction for our understanding of issues through the use of certain organizing principles. Some elements are highlighted, whereas others are downplayed or left out. This influences the way that a problem is diagnosed and what remedies are suggested. Still, many different understandings and uses of the concept are found in the literature, but all have in common the idea that frames are essentially about providing meaning.


Org.comm. and society

Piet Verhoeven (U of Amsterdam) and myself have just had an entry accepted for The International Encyclopedia of Organizational Communication (edited by Craig Scott and Laurie Lewis). Piet and I are rehearsing our ideas of the relationship between organizations and society, this time adding the literature on organizational  communication in to the mix. A growing strand of research has located organizations within the larger social context and addressed the role of communication in regards to issues of power and social change, as well as notions like legitimacy and reflection. The Encyclopedia is a part of a series linked to the International Communication Assosciation (ICA) and Wiley Blackwell. This particular volume will be published late 2016.

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Reputation, go!

The unstoppable Craig Carroll continues his quest on behalf of the corporate reputation construct. Previous installments have been the edited volumes Corporate reputation and the news media around the world. (Routledge, 2010) and Handbook of communication and corporate reputation (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013). Now under preparation: Encylopedia of corporate reputation (Sage, 2016). Not sure if it amounts to a pole position, but I have just had four entries approved: Rhetorical theory, framing theory, source credibility, and social theory. The latter with Piet Verhoeven (of course).

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The Encylopedia of Public Relations Vol 2 is out

Coming soon to a library near you: The never-stopping Bob Heath has just published the second edition of the mammoth work called the Encyclopedia of Public Relations. I have done my best to fill some of the 1152 pages, by submitting three entries, focusing on external rhetoric, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and social capital respectively. As always, I am touting rhetoric as a discipline that offers practical advice as to how to establish credibility, how to construct logical arguments, and how to emotionally connect with an audience. And, just as important, rhetoric also presents an epistemology which steers away from naïve realism to show how knowledge is generated and socially constructed through communication.

The entry on CSR covers the historical development of CSR, its fundamental concepts, the criticisms of CSR, and the role public relations plays for corporations that choose to follow its precepts. Finally, the entry on social capital defines the concept in brief as networks and the benefits which accrue from inclusion in those networks. Three positions on social capital are outlined and then I give a short overview of some potential applications within public relations.


Encylopedia entry on CSR and communication

Everything you wonder about CSR and then some. The Encyclopedia of Corporate Social Responsibility is out on Springer. A steal at 1200 Euro only! I have an entry here on communicating with stakeholders. The gist of it is really that communication is at the heart of how corporations go about mapping, evaluating and relating to social expectations and demands stakeholders are making. Communication is also absolutely necessary when corporations want to share their views of CSR and how they manage the externalities they create. When a corporation is communicating with stakeholders, it must be thought of as a two-way process that involves the use of symbols, including language, to influence or share an idea or a perspective, and/or to learn more about the ideas and perspectives of stakeholders.

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