Document Type



Graduate School of Media and Communications


This paper explores the ethical culture in which contemporary public relations practitioners’ work and how it relates to the professionalisation of the domain. Focusing on the international umbrella public relations institution Global Alliance (GA) and other important industry bodies such as the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) and Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ), we study how the ‘work’ of a public relations practitioner is described, and as a corollary, what professional and ethical standards are promoted. Our analysis draws on theories of professions (Abbott 1988; Anderson and Schudson 2009; Volti 2008) and narrative (Surma 2004, Herman 2009), and argues that key elements of professionalisation in public relations contribute to a normative culture which is potentially at odds with notions of ethical communication. We suggest public relations needs to engage more rigorously with professional values to develop, effectively, ethical practice and be normatively aligned with other professions.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Ethical space