Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 12-16-2022


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Erik Garrett

Committee Member

Janie Harden Fritz

Committee Member

Inci Ozum Sayrak


IMC, communication ethics, discourse, integration, Edward Said, Jürgen Habermas


Integrated Marketing Communication as a Discourse: A Problem with Integration examines integration within Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) scholarship in light of Jürgen Habermas’s discourse ethics and related communication ethics literature. Integration is a notion with dual meanings: one is technical, and the other philosophical. Technical integration is a perception management strategy that has been received as the competitive advantage for marketing communication for decades. Habermas’s philosophical/social integration is a communicative act that transmits culturally stored knowledge. It contextualizes norms in an appropriate theoretical framework, and it controls behaviors and personality structures. At the heart of IMC theory is an ambition to reach global audiences for maximum financial returns. This is especially true for already globally recognized and successful brands.

However, the ethical struggle appears in the consequences of commodification of humanity. Racialism, offensive language, culturally irrelevant advertising, or violent mediated content saturate integrated communication. They resemble a form of integrated “Orientalism” inspired by Edward Said’s critique of colonial textual misrepresentation of the distant Orient. These ethical issues appear more neglected within the framework of IMC education. Habermas’s philosophical discussions grounded in the interplay of public sphere theory, the notion of communicative rationality, and democratic cosmopolitanism fill gaps related to the ethical void in technical integration. The interplay of the three Habermasian notions helps to question the legitimacy and ability of integration in crafting culturally-biased identification of “universal truth.” It also fulfills the identification of discourse in general. Envisioning IMC discourse as a living understanding of universal-humanistic critical communication ethics points to implications important to the commercial and academic worlds. Discursive treatment of IMC explores the potentials of public participation as they appear in the pedagogical experience carried by IMC teachers and students, IMC academic programs, and universities. This dissertation aims to structure a critical constructive pedagogy for IMC that helps to generalize integration as an ethical communicative phenomenon.