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The mutable identities of women in public relations

Daymon, C. and Surma, A. (2012) The mutable identities of women in public relations. Public Relations Inquiry, 1 (2). pp. 177-196.

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The notion that contemporary society as a knowledge economy is undergoing profound transformation has implications for the occupation of public relations, as well as the professional and personal identities of public relations practitioners. With the increasing erosion of once clear demarcations between people, time, space and communication technologies, public relations practitioners experience increasing tensions in their encounters between self and other, private and public, economic and cultural factors. We are interested in how women in public relations undertake identity work as a way of responding to these pressures, notably at the point where their home and work lives intersect. In interviews and focus groups conducted in Perth, Western Australia, women of different ages and career backgrounds related their experiences of juggling multiple roles including worker, mother, partner, friend, parent or grandparent. The findings reveal a set of complex identity constructions that indicate that some women are successful in separating professional and personal identities, while others are unable to resist work as an all-encompassing activity and as the marker of a meaningful identity. To develop as a public relations practitioner involves not only the social expectations of what it means to be a professional coupled with an individual’s presentation of themselves in public relations. It also involves a changeable relationship that expands over the whole life situation, including career trajectories and family life stages. A recognition of this set of circumstances prompts further research questions in relation to public relations and its specific influence on gendered, identity and relationship practices, and has significant implications for the profession more broadly.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Media, Communication and Culture
Publisher: SAGE
Copyright: 2012 The Authors
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