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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2021

25 The strategic application of social capital theory in public relations

From the book Public Relations

  • Vincent Hazleton and Emilie Tydings


Social capital is a theory of increasing interest among public relations scholars. Social capital is the ability that organizations have to create, maintain, and use relationships to achieve organizational goals. Scholarship is largely focused on theoretical rather than practical applications. Basic elements of social capital theory are reviewed and explained. Three extra theoretic constructs are proposed to advance social capital theory and facilitate its use as a practical theory for the community of public relations professionals. The concepts are goals, goal compatibility, and interdependence. These concepts provide an enhanced theoretical structure that links public relations or communication strategies to the formation, maintenance, and expenditure of social capital to achieve organizational goals. Finally, the potential of social capital theory as an alternative to contemporary research on organization-public relationships is discussed.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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