Dr Lee Edwards

Dr Lee Edwards

Associate Professor

Department of Media and Communications

Telephone
+44 20 7107 5248
Room No
TW3.7.01A
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About me

Dr Lee Edwards is Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, where she also serves as programme director for the MSc Strategic Communications. She teaches and researches public relations from a socio-cultural perspective, focusing in particular on how power operates in and through public relations work. Her PhD (Leeds Metropolitan University) was a Bourdieuvian analysis of the public relations profession focusing on the forms of capital that circulated within the profession and the ways in which it exercised symbolic power within organisations as well as in wider society. She has a BSc in Linguistics and International Studies (University of Surrey), and MPhil in Management and Labour Relations (University of Auckland).

Dr Edwards is the author of Understanding Public Relations: Theory, Culture and Society (Sage, 2017, forthcoming); Power, Diversity and Public Relations (Routledge, 2014); and Understanding Copyright (with Dr Bethany Klein and Dr Giles Moss, Sage, 2015). She is editor, with Dr Caroline Hodges, of Public Relations, Society and Culture: Theoretical and Empirical Explorations (Routledge, 2011).

Dr Edwards was the Secretary of the International Communication Association PR Division (2014-16) and won an ICA Communication Policy Division Top Paper award in 2013, with co-authors Giles Moss, Bethany Klein, Fiona Philip and David Lee, for the paper Justifying Copyright: Discourse, Legitimation and Critique. She is a regional editor for the Journal of Communication, and a co-editor of PR Inquiry. She is a reviewer for a wide range of journals including Management Communication Quarterly; Consumption, Markets and Culture; Media, Culture and Society; The Journal of Professions and Organisations, and New Media and Society.

Before she joined academia, Dr Edwards worked for six years as a PR professional in New Zealand and the UK, specialising in technology PR and providing consultancy services to a wide range of organisations, including Microsoft. 

View CV (PDF)

Expertise

social; cultural and civic uses and effects of public relations; diversity; ‘race’; inequality and public relations; the sociology of public relations as a professional field; young people; public relations; voice and recognition

Research

As a critical scholar, Dr Edwards' primary focus is on the operation of power in and through PR, both within the occupational field and in wider society.  She is particularly interested in the relationship between public relations, different forms of inequality, its contribution to democracy and its impact on social justice. She draws on a wide range of theory in her work, from Bourdieuvian sociology and deliberative theory, to critical race theory and the sociology of the professions, in order to understand how public relations shapes both the world we inhabit and how we interpret our place within that world.

In her search to find ways of understanding public relations beyond the organisational context, Dr Edwards has made a number of different theoretical contributions to the field, including new interpretations of public relations as an object of research, conceptualisations of public relations’ role in globalization, public relations as a cultural industry and as cultural intermediation. She has led or participated in a number of funded empirical research projects focused on diversity in public relations (ESRC grant 000-22-3143), digital communication and social action (EPSRC/CCN+ RG.COMM.484688), the communication of copyright (ESRC grant RES 062-23-3027), the use of social media as a public relations tool by feminist activist groups and by young people in the UK. She has published widely on her empirical work, arguing for a more radical approach to improving diversity in public relations, as well as for a more robust understanding of public relations as a cultural industry and practitioners as cultural intermediaries. In her current writing, she explores the ways in which public relations serves democracy and social justice for young people and marginalised groups.

Alongside her focus on public relations, Dr Edwards has conducted research on the ways in which copyright is promoted, talked about and understood by creative industries, artists / creators, activists and users. This work, conducted with colleagues Giles Moss and Bethany Klein at the University of Leeds and funded by the ESRC (grant RES 062-23-3027) and CREATe (AHRC Grant Number AH/K000179/1), has delivered insights into how the process of making copyright policy could be more inclusive and democratic, ultimately leading to a more robust and widely accepted copyright regime. The work is ongoing and forms a major part of her current interests.

Publications

Books

  • Edwards, L. (2018, forthcoming) Understanding public relations: Theory, culture, society. London: SAGE.
  • Klein, B., Moss, G. & Edwards, L. (2015). Understanding copyright: Intellectual property in the digital age. London: Sage.
  • Edwards, L. (2014). Power, diversity and public relations. London: Routledge.
  • Edwards, L. & Hodges, C. (Eds) (2011). Public relations, society and culture: Theoretical and empirical explorations. London: Routledge.

 

View further publications here

Teaching

Dr Edwards is programme director for the MSc Strategic Communications. She also convenes and teaches on the following courses: