Category Archives: Strategic communication

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.


Special issue of Rhetorica Scandinavica

There is a new call for papers out for Rhetorica Scandinavica. Together with Jonas Gabrielsen and Lena Lid Falkman, I will be editing a special issue on organizational rhetoric. The broad call asks the question: How can we get a better understanding of organizational rhetoric? The journal accepts papers in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish.

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Shaking it up with social theory

The latest issue of Communication Director has been on the streets for some days. Piet Verhoeven and I have a piece in there pushing the usefulness of social theory for practitioners and scholars alike. We argue that it is difficult to chastise public relations practitioners and theorists for keeping their noses to the ground and not taking a broader social theoretical perspective. There is, however, a pay off for those willing to think in broader terms, looking beyond what is immediately useful for an organization. Social theory can help provide a basic understanding of the societal role of the practice, and its ethical and political consequences.

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Social theory as compass

Piet Verhoeven and I continue our crusade to highlight the necessity of using social theories to analyze strategic communication. In the new Routledge Handbook of Strategic Communication, we have extended on our discussion started in Public Relations and Social Theory and Public Relations Inquiry. The chapter is called “Social theories for strategic communication” and we argue that to choose a social theoretical approach by implication means that 1) the domain of research includes the social level, 2) a description of society is sought, 3) key concepts like legitimacy and reflection comes to the fore, 4) key issues for research concerns power and language; and 5) an empirical program based in social constructionism propels communication studies to the 
. Preprint version

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Four newspaper articles from the MoM-project

In a series of four articles, the large Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has given us as researchers the opportunity to present the main findings from the project Mediation of Migration. Together with Tine Ustad Figenschou I have signed the article addressing the strategies of the bureaucracy (only in Norwegian, I am afraid).

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