This article is a qualitative analysis of mass-mediated projections of relationships between public relations practitioners in the shape of activist groups and organizations, and subaltern stakeholders for whom they act as public representatives. Drawing my empirical examples from Japan and Taiwan and analysing the public relations implications of two politically sensitive and controversial cases, I question the nature of representative relations as reflected in mainstream mass media coverage in these two societies. Doing so, I raise concerns about the critical scope of scholarly interest in activism and the representation of other voices in public relations studies and draw on theoretical insights from Spivak, Guha, and others in order to untangle some of the complexities inherent in the mobilization of subaltern groups, here victims of historical abuse and maltreatment. The existence of such complexities in public and legal activism, I argue, remains largely ignored in public relations studies, despite the emergence of a new critical or postmodern paradigm.
Public Relations Inquiry, 2014, Vol 3, Issue 1, p. 51-68