Cultural intermediaries and the circuit of culture: The Digital Ambassadors project in Johannesburg, South Africa

D. R. Benecke, Z. Simpson, S. Le Roux, C. J. Skinner, N. Janse van Rensburg, J. Sibeko, S. Bvuma, J. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The question raised by Cheney and Christensen (2001) as to “what a non-Western, non-managerial and non-rationalist form of public relations will look like” (p.182), together with the call made by Gregory (2014) for public relations practitioners (PRPs) to be active social change agents, motivated this paper. The aim of this research is to follow a culture-centred approach and apply the circuit of culture (Curtin & Gaither, 2005) to investigate the meanings that young people (aged 18 to 34), as cultural intermediaries, ascribe to their participation in a digital empowerment project implemented by the City of Johannesburg, South Africa. This research forms part of a larger, ongoing multi-disciplinary research project. The research highlights the complexity of projects of this nature, the wide variety of stakeholders involved, the significance of structure, the importance of training of cultural intermediaries, and the benefits such intermediaries gain from their involvement. A key finding is that self-development and financial benefit contribute significantly to the success of cultural intermediaries. This paper contributes to the field of public relations by providing an analysis of cultural intermediaries’ contribution to the circuit of culture as influenced not only by production and consumption but also by identity and regulation as seen in the way they represented the meaning created during their experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-34
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Relations Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • Circuit of culture
  • Cultural intermediaries
  • Culture-centred approach
  • Digital Ambassadors project
  • Public relations
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Marketing


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