Journal Articles on Digital Diplomacy
ABSTRACT: Based on a range of interviews with foreign diplomats in London, the article explains the considerable variation in the way communication technologies both affect diplomatic practices and are appropriated by diplomats to pursue the respective countries’ information gathering and outreach objectives. The study shows that London, as an information environment, is experienced differently by each of the diplomats and embassy actors. The analysis elaborates a model of the “communication behaviour” of foreign diplomats in London based on an evolutionary analogy: foreign diplomats in the context of the British capital, within their respective embassy organizations, can each be compared to the members of a species attempting to survive in a natural environment. The nuances highlighted by the explanatory model challenge the largely homogeneous and generalized nature of current debates about media and diplomacy, as well as public diplomacy.
ABSTRACT: Due to the ongoing information revolution, diplomats find themselves in an increasingly competitive information-intensive environment where they have to prove that they still are relevant and needed. The article explores this general development by detailing how the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has related to the technological challenge. Drawing on personal interviews with MFA staff, study of MFA documents including reports from Norwegian embassies and delegations, as well as participant observation, reasons for the relative tardiness and path-dependence in implementing IT-supported organizational change at the MFA are explored.
ABSTRACT: To meet its most important strategic goals—on global warming, the continuing economic crisis, nonproliferation and a host of regional issues—the State Department will require a practical, pragmatic digital strategy of the sort that Barack Obama employed to win the presidency.
ABSTRACT: The article discusses a study which examines the utilization of Web 2.0 technologies in the proliferation of Grey Literature in the U.S. government. It notes that the U.S. Department of State has embraced the transformation of internal and external communication towards eDiplomacy. It explores the functionality of federal government electronic models and the various ways they produce information for intra-governmental communication services and external users of information.
ABSTRACT: In recent years the United States has turned to digital technologies to buoy its response to anti-Americanism in the so-called “Muslim world.” At least three concepts appear to be shaping this effort. The first is a marketing-based strategy called “engagement.” The other two are derivations of Marshall McLuhan's “global village” and his aphorism that “the medium is the message.” This article focuses on the uses and misuses of McLuhan's work by foreign policy officials in Washington. It argues that their stated purpose—to empower people and further inter-cultural understanding through dialogue—is dubious. Indeed, pronouncements regarding these potentials now sit uncomfortably alongside Washington's use of these same technologies to manage dissent. By assessing digital engagement and a more general initiative called “internet freedom” (both in the light of what McLuhan, in fact, says), American aspirations involving digital communications are shown to be more than just contradictory; they are dangerously misguided.
ABSTRACT: The Obama administration has embraced ‘engagement’ as the dominant concept informing U.S. public diplomacy. Despite its emphasis on facilitating dialogue with and among Muslims overseas, this article demonstrates that, in practice, engagement aims to leverage social media and related technologies to persuade skeptical audiences to empathize with American policies. Indeed, its primary means of implementation – participatory interactions with foreign publics – is inherently duplicitous. Through the authors’ description of how engagement is rooted in long-standing public relations and corporate marketing discourses, and in light of the historical and structural foundations of anti-Americanism, this contemporary public diplomacy strategy is shown to be both contradictory and, ultimately, delusional. As an alternative, the authors argue that an ethical public diplomacy should be pursued, i.e., a public diplomacy that embraces genuine (rather than contrived) dialogue. Although this approach is difficult to achieve (primarily because it implies a direct challenge to entrenched U.S. foreign policy norms), it constitutes a mode of public diplomacy that better reflects the idealized principles of American democracy.
ABSTRACT: Networks and connectivity, rather than specific platforms or technologies, are the hallmarks of the globalization age. The concept of the V Tower embeds these qualities, as well as the nature, culture, and content of the enabled activity. By favoring these elements over the previously unassailable characteristics of control, hierarchy, and physical place, the values of the V tower will be more in tune with the de-territorialized and fluid dynamics of the twenty-first century. As the center of gravity in the international system migrates away from states, innovative, even radical, approaches to representation and communication will have to be identified and implemented if governments are to stay on as players in an ever-changing game. A shift towards virtual platforms, as represented by the construction of a V Tower or something like it, represents barely a start. But it may be, at least, that.
ABSTRACT: This essay reviews the early work of the U.S. Information Agency (1953–1999) in the field of computer and on-line communications, noting the compatibility of a networking approach to USIA's institutional culture. The essay then traces the story forward into the work of the units within the U.S. Department of State which took over public diplomacy functions in 1999. The article argues that this transition deserves a large part of the blame for the difficulty which the risk-averse State Department displayed in embracing first the web and then the full range of qualities associated with Web 2.0. The essay also notes the challenge of a non-diplomatic agency—the Department of Defense—playing a dominant role in digital and other forms of outreach at some points in the process. The essay ends by noting the recent evolution of the State Department's approach to digital media and the emergence of a non-governmental model for American digital outreach (known by the acronym SAGE) which may overcome many of the institutional limits experienced thus far and provide a way to bring together the relational priorities of the New Public Diplomacy with the relational capacities of Web 2.0 technology.
ABSTRACT: “Twiplomacy” is the title of a convention that took place in Turin, hosting among others Alec Ross, the social media strategist for the U.S. Secretary of State, and the Tunisian blogger Lina Ben Mhenni, who played a key role during the popular rise against Ben Ali. But more than a convention, digital diplomacy is a relevant change in the way embassies, movements and institutions spread information in real time, turning into powerful news-hubs. This is an adjustment that is largely due to the new needs related to the digital democracy that marks our age of digital communication, such as transparency and effectiveness.
ABSTRACT: Understanding, planning, engagement and advocacy are core concepts of public diplomacy. They are not unique to the American experience. There is, however, an American public diplomacy modus operandi with enduring characteristics that are rooted in the nation’s history and political culture. These include episodic resolve correlated with war and surges of zeal, systemic trade-offs in American politics, competitive practitioner communities and powerful civil society actors, and late adoption of communication technologies. This article examines these concepts and characteristics in the context of U.S. President Barack Obama’s strategy of global public engagement. It argues that as U.S. public diplomacy becomes a multi-stakeholder instrument and central to diplomatic practice, its institutions, methods and priorities require transformation rather than adaptation. The article explores three illustrative issues: a culture of understanding; social media; and multiple diplomatic actors. It concludes that the characteristics shaping the U.S. public diplomacy continue to place significant constraints on its capacity for transformational change.
ABSTRACT: This paper focuses on the phenomenon of digital diplomacy, critically analyzed from the perspective of philosophical psychoanalysis. The study aims to elaborate the theoretical underpinnings of digital diplomacy through employing the conceptual framework of collective individuation and psycho-technologies developed by French critical philosopher Bernard Stiegler. Stiegler’s philosophical conception of contemporary politics under the condition of globalized cultural and economic capitalism is employed in this work to explain the dramatic changes in diplomatic relations taking place on the international arena at the beginning of the new century.
Hallams, E. (2010). Digital Diplomacy: The Internet, the Battle for Ideas & U.S. Foreign Policy. CEU Political Science Journal, 4, 538-574.
ABSTRACT: This paper explores how the Internet and new media technologies are playing a growing role in transforming U.S. public diplomacy programs, as part of broader efforts to counter the “Grand Narrative” of radical Islamic extremism. The Internet is at the heart of “digital diplomacy,” communicating ideas, promoting policies and fostering debate and discussion aimed at undermining support for Al-Qaeda and crafting a credible alternative narrative. Programs such as Public Diplomacy 2.0 are becoming increasingly important as the U.S. seeks both to revitalize its tools of soft power and reach out and engage the “youth generation” of the Muslim world. The paper examines the way in which Al-Qaeda has created a virtual battle space that is growing in importance as Western military forces seek to dominate the physical battle space. It explores how U.S. policymakers have begun to grasp the importance of fusing soft power, public diplomacy and information strategies, an approach at the heart of the technologically-savvy Obama Administration.
Hayden, C. (2012). Social Media at State: Power, Practice, and Conceptual Limits for U.S. Public Diplomacy. Global Media Journal-American Edition, 11(21), 1-20.
ABSTRACT: Social media technologies represent a significant development for U.S. public diplomacy: both in practice and in conceptualization. This article analyzes policy discourse regarding social media's role in U.S. public diplomacy to characterize conceptual development of U.S. public diplomacy practice. It critically assesses U.S. strategic arguments for technology and public diplomacy, the relation of public diplomacy to traditional diplomacy after the so-called “public diplomacy 2.0” turn, and how the collaborative potential of these developments complicate the utility of soft power to justify public diplomacy.
ABSTRACT: Nation-state efforts to account for the shift in the global communication environment, such as “public diplomacy 2.0,” appear to reflect inter-related transformations – how information and communication technologies (ICTs) change the instruments of statecraft and, importantly, how communication interventions serve as strategically significant foreign policy objectives in their own right. This paper examines two cases of foreign policy rhetoric that reveal ways in which the social and political role of ICTs is articulated as part of international influence objectives: the case of “public diplomacy 2.0” programs in the United States and Venezuela’s Telesur international broadcasting effort. These provide evidence of the increasing centrality of ICTs to policy concerns and demonstrate how policy makers translate contextualized ideas of communication effects and mediated politics into practical formulations.
Hayden, C., Waisanen, D., & Osipova, Y. (2013). Facilitating the Conversation: The 2012 Presidential Election and the Public Diplomacy of U.S. Social Media. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(11), 1623-1642.
ABSTRACT: The elections of President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 provided pivotal moments in U.S. relations with foreign publics. Examining the kind of communication cultivated between public diplomacy practitioners and publics, this article focuses on social media discourse about the 2012 U.S. election posted to U.S. diplomacy efforts on Facebook. We analyze information generated by U.S. embassy sites in Bangladesh, Egypt, and Pakistan to understand the qualities of the communication engendered by these public diplomacy overtures, the nature of public argument via the media platform, and how the election served as a process to further contemporary U.S. public diplomacy. We found that the discussion that took place in response to the announcement of Obama’s reelection did not resemble a deliberative forum for debating U.S. foreign policy or regional implications. Rather, much of the messaging on these sites constituted what we term “spreadable epideictic.” Implications are charted for research and practice.
ABSTRACT: This introductory essay highlights the key findings, methodological tool kit, and production process of this Special Issue. We argue that communication researchers are uniquely positioned to analyze the relationships between social media and political change in careful and nuanced ways, in terms of both causes and consequences. Finally, we offer a working definition of social media, based on the diverse and considered uses of the term by the contributors to the collection. Social media consists of (a) the information infrastructure and tools used to produce and distribute content that has individual value but reflects shared values; (b) the content that takes the digital form of personal messages, news, ideas, that becomes cultural products; and (c) the people, organizations, and industries that produce and consume both the tools and the content.
ABSTRACT: The internet is enabling new approaches to public diplomacy. The U.S. Digital Outreach Team (DOT) is one such initiative, aiming to engage directly with citizens in the Middle East by posting messages about U.S. foreign policy on internet forums. This case study assesses the DOT's work. Does this method provide a promising move towards a more interactive and individualized approach to connecting with the Middle East? What are the strategic challenges faced by "public diplomacy 2.0?"
Leight, N., Walton, S. B., Ananian, T., Cruz-Enriquez, M., & Jarwaharlal, K. (2011). PDiN Quarterly–Trends in Public Diplomacy: January, February and March 2011. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 7(2), 136-149.
ABSTRACT: In the final quarter of 2010, public diplomacy and traditional diplomacy were often at the forefront of news stories in the media. Referred to as Cablegate, the biggest story for traditional diplomacy was the decision by online media source, WikiLeaks, to post tens of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables to its website.
Lengel, L., & Newsome, V. A. (2012). Framing Messages of Democracy through Social Media: Public Diplomacy 2.0, Gender, and the Middle East and North Africa. Global Media Journal, 11(21), 1-18.
ABSTRACT: This study examines how U.S. public diplomacy directed toward the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and public diplomacy from the MENA to other regions, including the U.S., uses social media. It analyzes how messages regarding recent events in the MENA are constructed for Western audiences, how public diplomacy rises from this construction, and the resulting the benefits and challenges within intercultural communication practice. Utilizing a framework for social media flow the processes of gatekeeping are examined, from both state and non-state actors representing MENA voices, and western actors who receive those voices, to illustrate public diplomacy from the MENA is a “glocal” construct of the traditions of both of those localities.
Metzgar, E. T. (2012). The Medium is Not the Message: Social Media, American Public Diplomacy & Iran. Global Media Journal-American Edition, 11(21), 1-16.
ABSTRACT: This article discusses communication concepts associated with the practice of public diplomacy 2.0, applying those concepts to analysis of American implementation of PD 2.0 directed toward Iran. Although interaction between the United States and the Iranian people may be limited, may not always take place in real time, and certainly cannot serve as a substitute for the interactions facilitated by a bricks-and-mortar embassy on the ground, the Virtual Embassy Tehran and its social media accouterments represent an interesting application of American public diplomacy priorities. The effort is consistent not only with the goals of 21st Century Statecraft, but also with the Administration’s stated preference for engagement while still pursuing vigorous economic sanctions toward the Iranian regime. The effort also has potent symbolic value given the United States’ promotion of global internet freedom as a foreign policy goal.
ABSTRACT: In 2010 the U.S. State Department funded an “Apps4Africa” contest to encourage development of socially conscious mobile applications for Africa. The initiative marked a significant departure from traditional public diplomacy efforts to expand diplomatic outreach beyond traditional government-to-government relationships. This case study analyses Apps4Africa to reveal its appropriateness as a model for future efforts and concludes Apps4Africa succeeded primarily because it responded to the changing dynamics of the 21st Century.
ABSTRACT: States articulate their identity and foreign policy interests in the international system, seeking to influence the perceptions of others and to create an environment in which their goals and efficacy as an actor are viewed as legitimate. In the age of mass communication technologies and new media, the public diplomacy initiatives utilized to communicate these narratives have gone digital. This article studies how India has utilized this new media environment for its public diplomacy and argues that digital diplomacy should be conceptualized as a larger set of practices that form an integral part of diplomacy itself: to communicate foreign policy goals and decisions, construct a strategic narrative of Indian foreign policy and counter narratives inimical to Indian interests.
ABSTRACT: This article examines how South Korean and Japanese public diplomacy organizations employ digital media to embrace the principle of ‘networked public diplomacy’ through analyses of the web and social media practices. The results of content analysis suggest that both South Korea and Japanese public diplomats focused on promoting their cultural products and national values through their use of texts and visual images. In addition, user profile analysis gaged the degree of users' engagement in the organizations' profiles and identified the demographic features of users. Comparative data suggest the Korean public diplomacy organization was more successful at attracting and engaging with foreign public than the Japanese public diplomacy organization. These results imply that although these two countries had similar sociopolitical backgrounds and perspectives of public diplomacy, they had distinct forms of internal information networks, communication strategies, and social networking performances with public.
ABSTRACT: Rapid advancements in communication and transportation technologies in recent history have created new and emerging tools that make it possible for every individual to share information with a global audience. Social networking technologies, especially, have revolutionized the possibilities of person-to-person communication, particularly by making obsolete the geographical boundaries that once divided cultures and nationalities. Diplomacy, an international relations activity traditionally claimed as the domain of the nation-state, has become more accessible to ‘ordinary’ citizens and advocacy groups and is taking new forms as individuals and groups initiate grassroots public diplomacy activities. This paper presents the case studies of two such initiatives—Turkayfe.org and the Rediscover Rosarito Project—that have successfully implemented new communications technologies and Web 2.0 strategies in their international outreach campaigns.
ABSTRACT: Technology matters but do not neglect the importance of people. Hierarchies can collapse and unpredictable actors may emerge, particularly during crisis. Amidst information, misinformation and disinformation, trust is the most highly prized commodity. Social media literacy is a new, crucial component of diplomacy. Diplomatic structures must adapt to stay relevant.
ABSTRACT: We live in an era of pervasive connectivity. At an astonishing pace, much of the world’s population is joining a common network. The proliferation of communications and information technology creates very significant changes for statecraft. But we have to keep in mind that the Internet is not a magic potion for political and social progress. Technology by itself is agnostic. It simply amplifies the existing sociologies on the ground, for good or ill. And it is much better at organizing protest movements than organizing institutions to support new governments in place of those that have been toppled. Diplomacy in the twenty-first century must grapple with both the potential and the limits of technology in foreign policy, and respond to the disruptions that it causes in international relations.
Sending, O. J., Pouliot, V., & Neumann, I. B. (2011). The Future of Diplomacy Changing Practices, Evolving Relationships. International Journal: Canada's Journal of Global Policy Analysis, 66(3), 527-542.
ABSTRACT: This paper specifies two main areas in which diplomacy is changing as a result of evolving social patterns. First, we look at the relationship between representation and governance: if anything, diplomatic work is traditionally about representing a polity vis-à-vis a recognized other. To the extent that such representation now increasingly includes partaking in governing, however, a whole array of questions about the relationship between diplomats and other actors emerges. Most prominently, are the governing and representing functions compatible in practice, or do they contain inherent tensions? Second, we focus on the territorial-nonterritorial character of the relation between the actors who perform diplomatic work and the constituencies on whose behalf they act and from which they claim authority. Building on these distinctions, contributors to this issue use their empirical findings to reflect not only on the evolution of diplomacy, but also on broader debates on the changes in world politics.
ABSTRACT: study identifies perspectives of relationships publics have about countries other than their own and examines whether publics engaged through social media-based public diplomacy programs demonstrate different relationship perspectives. Q methodology and survey research were used to investigate these issues. Data come from South Korean adult internet users, including members of Café USA, an online community run by the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. Three relationship perspectives were identified: outcome-based, sincerity-based, and access-based. Compared with other groups, Café USA members put more emphasis on sincerity in their relationships with the United States. The results of this study indicate that individuals’ subjectivity should be considered as far more contextualized and nuanced than has been the case in previous research on national image or country reputation.
ABSTRACT: In a networked world, the United States has the potential to be the most connected country; it will also be connected to other power centers that are themselves widely connected. If it pursues the right policies, the United States has the capacity and the cultural capital to reinvent itself. It need not see itself as locked in a global struggle with other great powers; rather, it should view itself as a central player in an integrated world. In the twenty-first century, the United States' exceptional capacity for connection, rather than splendid isolation or hegemonic domination, will renew its power and restore its global purpose.
Stoltzfus, K. (2008). Exploring U.S. E-diplomacy and Non-state Actors' Increasing Communicative Influence. In Proceedings of the 2008 International Conference on Digital Government Research (pp. 347-354). Digital Government Society of North America.
ABSTRACT: This exploratory study examines national governments’ increasing information dependencies on non-state actors. The impact of new government information partnerships afford non-state actors with a more influential role in diplomatic processes. Using the U.S. Department of State as the case study, this work synthesizes literature on the nature, functions, and information assets involved in diplomacy to explicate how digital government is changing state and non-state communicative dynamics and influences.
Vanc, A. (2012). Post-9/11 U.S. Public Diplomacy in Eastern Europe: Dialogue via New Technologies or Face-to-Face Communication? Global Media Journal-American Edition, 11(21).
ABSTRACT: Has the fabric of communication between the United States and the countries once behind the Iron Curtain changed from simply delivering messages through international broadcasters to collaborative relationships built on dialogue? This work seeks to discern whether diplomats have embraced and applied dialogic principles with foreign publics by examining how U.S. diplomats engage with foreign publics and what tools they use to engage in dialogue. Interviews with U.S. diplomats in Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia show that U.S. diplomats embraced and applied dialogic principles, and employed dialogue to establish long-term collaborative relations with people abroad. Communicating with foreign publics in transitional societies required a multifaceted approach that required a variety of communication tools, among which the prevailing preference was for face-to-face communication.
Williamson, W. F., & Kelley, J. R. (2012). # Kelleypd: Public Diplomacy 2.0 Classroom. Global Media Journal-American Edition, 11(21), 1-19.
ABSTRACT: This paper looks at innovative strategies for how to effectively teach Public Diplomacy by integrating technology into the classroom. The results are based on a Foundations of Public Diplomacy class taught at American University in Spring 2012. The course explored recent shifts in public diplomacy toward virtual statecraft. As part of this focus, the syllabus integrated an ongoing social media dimension over the duration of the course. From the beginning, the course had a dedicated Twitter hashtag (#kelleypd) that gained traction and became part of the larger dialogue around the topic of public diplomacy. The second half of the class featured student presentations, which were required to include technology components. The results from the class showed a high level of participation and interaction within the class and into the larger community. In addition, the students gained skills in media creation that helped them to understand which tools would be appropriate in diverse situations.
ABSTRACT: This article examines the role of social media in public diplomacy. Using the cases of the Iranian riots and the Xinjiang riots in 2009, the article investigates the emerging strategic implications of social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in national and international politics. The research identifies web-based public diplomacy as an increasingly important trend in foreign policy strategies. This strategic asset is based on technology-enabled word-of-mouth communication, implemented through social media, facilitated by anonymous proxy. An inadvertent result of web-based public diplomacy is the creation of ‘smart mobs’, a consequence that may be intentionally used by groups with certain political agendas. Finally, the article recommends that China utilize the full potential of social media to achieve its public diplomacy goals and to enhance its global agenda-setting power.
Zaharna, R. S., & Rugh, W. A. (2012). Issue Theme: The Use of Social Media in U.S. Public Diplomacy. Global Media Journal-American Edition, 11(21), 1-8.
ABSTRACT: The rise of social media is revolutionizing how state and non-state actors communicate with publics in the international community. While governments across the globe are scrambling to adjust, U.S. public diplomacy has emerged as a clear leader in the field according to a new report (Hanson 2012). This special issue explores the various dimensions of the use and impact of social media on U.S. public diplomacy and the public diplomacy of other state and non-state actors directed at the U.S. public.
ABSTRACT: This research proposed that social media use in public diplomacy should first be a strategic issue management (SIM) process. Using two case studies, the research identified four phases of the SIM process, namely the issue fermenting and going viral phase, the proactive phase, the reactive phase, and the issue receding and new issue fermenting phase. Social media are largely tactical tools in the first and the last phases. But they may become strategic tools in the proactive and reactive phases, in which diplomats may use them to reinforce a favorable viral trend, to build an agenda, and to respond to a conflict. In addition, the SIM approach argues that engagement, the Obama administration’s diplomatic doctrine, should be reassessed in a mixed-motive framework instead of being narrowly equated to dialogue.
ABSTRACT: With the evolution of communication technologies, traditional public diplomacy is transforming. This study examines the practice of the U.S. Embassy's public diplomatic communication via social media, namely Chinese mainstream blogging and micro-blogging, sites using Tencent for a case study. This study analyzes the embassy's blog and micro-blog entries and an interview with the embassy's public diplomacy officer. Based on the content analysis and interview, this study discerns the key features of the U.S. Embassy's public diplomatic communication using social media and further suggests that the common values and interests related to the global public as well as experience-sharing and relationship-building might become the focus of new public diplomacy research.
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