Speaking (and listening) to empower voices rarely heard

Public Relations Institute of Australia
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, 2022, 24, pp. 1-20
Issue Date:
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The theme of the PRIA Research Symposium 2021 brought into focus an essential, but often lacking, contributor to a civil and equitable society – the need for the voice of marginalised, silent, and silenced groups to be expressed. However, ‘speaking up and speaking out’ is only half of the equation for social justice and equity. Recent research has shown that listening is “a missing half” of communication (Macnamara, 2018) in many instances. In particular, research has drawn attention to the need for organisational listening (Macnamara, 2016a), noting that in contemporary industrialised societies, organisations play a central role in people’s lives, including, corporate, government, and non-government organisations (NGOs) (Bimber et al., 2012). Sociologists and political scientists warn that if such organisations are not listening inclusively and effectively, voice has no value (Couldry, 2010). This paper synthesises seven years of empirical research to propose concepts and recommendations that address a gap in public relations, stakeholder and community engagement, and public communication literature generally that give meaning and impact to speaking up and speaking out.
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