Dalien Rene Benecke

Cultural Intermediaries and the Circuit of Culture: The Digital Ambassadors Project in Johannesburg, South Africa

In 2015, Jim Macnamara found current research into public relations as a practice for social change, in communities in transforming contexts, such as South Africa, to be lacking. This study was motivated by both the question raised by Cheney and Christensen in 2001, as to what a non-Western, non-managerial and non-rationalist form of public relations will look like, as well as the 2014 call by Anne Gregory for public relations practitioners to be active social change agents.

The aim of this study was to apply Curtin and Gaither’s circuit of culture, as an investigative tool into the role of young people as cultural intermediaries, in a digital empowerment project implemented by the City of Johannesburg, South Africa. This project forms part of a larger, ongoing, multi-disciplinary research project, utilizing reports, reflective videos, observations and surveys to collect data in an exploratory study.


Dalien Rene Benecke is a senior lecturer and curriculum chair in the Department of Strategic Communication at the University of Johannesburg. She has published on experiential learning in public relations education, the importance of dialogue and open conversation in transformational societies, the history of Public Relations in South Africa and is co-author of South African Handbook of Public Relations (10th and 11th editions). She is a Chartered Public Relations Practitioner (PRISA) and serves as the PRISA Education, Training and Research Committee Chair.

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