“Making Their Problem Our Problem: How the Public Relations Industry Manipulated the American Public for the Benefit of the Fossil Fuel Industry”
Melissa Aronczyk, Associate Professor, School of Communication & Information, Rutgers University
Maria I. Espinoza, Ph.D. candidate, Sociology Department, Rutgers University
In their new book A Strategic Nature,* Melissa Aronczyk and Maria I. Espinoza examine public relations as a social and political force that shapes both our understanding of the environmental crises we now face and our responses to them. On the next Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition livestream, Aronczyk and Espinoza will share insights from the book. Drawing on in-depth interviews, ethnography, and archival research, Aronczyk and Espinoza document the evolution of PR techniques to control public perception of the environment since the beginning of the twentieth century. A Strategic Nature shows how public relations restricts alternative paths to a sustainable climate future.
Melissa Aronczyk is Associate Professor in the School of Communication & Information at Rutgers University. Her writing on media, publicity and environment has been published in Environmental Sociology, New Media & Society, Enterprise & Society, Public Relations Inquiry, and featured in The Washington Post and the podcast Drilled.
Maria I. Espinoza is a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology department at Rutgers University. Her research centers on risk communication, environmental politics, and the climate-health nexus. Her work has been published in Social Science & Medicine, Big Data & Society, Environmental Sociology, and Climatic Change. She holds a B.A. from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and an M.A. in Sociology from Syracuse University. She has worked both in the social sector as a venture coordinator for Ashoka in the Andean Region and in the private sector as a consultant conducting social and environmental impact assessment studies.
*Melissa Aronczyk and Maria I. Espinoza, A Strategic Nature: Public Relations and the Politics of American Environmentalism (Oxford University Press, 2022).