New Issue of CPD Perspectives Exploring Semiotics of Public Diplomacy

In the latest issue of CPD Perspectives on Public Diplomacy, CPD Research Fellow Ilan Manor analyzes diplomats as visual narrators who use images as “ideological devices to promote a certain worldview.”

Few studies to date have investigated diplomats’ use of visuals on social media. This study asserts that diplomats are now visual narrators as they use visuals to shape the worldviews of social media users. Moreover, this study asserts that ministries of foreign affairs (MFAs) have institutionalized the process of visual narration as diplomats create and disseminate visuals on a daily basis. To examine diplomats’ visual narration, this study analyzed three social media-based public diplomacy campaigns: one managed by the British Foreign Office and two managed by the Israeli and Lithuanian foreign ministries. Semiotic analysis was employed to unearth the meaning that might arise from diplomats’ visuals. Notably, this study is among the first to employ Roland Barthes’s semiotic approach to visuals shared online by diplomats who conduct public diplomacy. This study found that MFA visuals were used to obtain offline policy goals. Moreover, visuals enabled the delivery of elaborate messages despite Twitter’s character limit. This study also found that visuals served as ideological devices as they were used to promote a certain worldview. Results thus validate the study’s assertion that diplomats are visual narrators and highlight the need for more academic research into this form of visual narration. 

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