Communication Power and 21st Century Statecraft

Principal Investigator:
Craig Hayden,  CPD Research Fellow, 2012-2014

This project examines contemporary efforts of digital engagement conducted by the United States Department of State. The purpose is to probe key assumptions about the relationship between power and communication evidenced in contemporary practices of public diplomacy. Specifically, the project unpacks crucial arguments and assumptions found in the organizational discourse and usage of technology about power that are at stake in the service of U.S. statecraft – in order to understand developing concepts of collaborative diplomacy and the agency of international actors implicated in the practice of digital statecraft.

Two primary case studies will explore the transformational and indeed, institutional consequences of this new practice: the collaborative e-diplomacy of the TechCamp initiative (and related programs of under the moniker of “21st Century Statecraft”) and the coordinated new media consultancy efforts of the Office of International Information Programs that work to promote social media outreach at the post level. The study builds on existing work within political communication and international studies on strategic narrative, technology and diplomacy, and in rhetorical/critical analysis of public diplomacy, to show how the issues at stake in public diplomacy connects to larger scholarly debates about the complicated nature of mediated power in a diffuse, polylateral field of diplomatic practice.

The Fellowship Project will provide a theory-informed analysis that explores the underlying discursive, cultural, and technological contexts surrounding the fusion of public diplomacy and traditional diplomatic practice. The project will provide a research-based contribution to the growing public attention to e-diplomacy, strategic engagement, and power through an examination of key strategic documents, organizational discourse, and interviews with practitioners involved in some form of digital engagement.