The Mediatization of Diplomacy

in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
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Practitioners and scholars are increasingly aware that an array of new actors, communication technologies, agendas and expectations are changing the institution of diplomacy. How diplomatic actors are known and experienced through their representation assumes an increasingly important, and uncertain, role. This article argues that these changes to the field should be considered in terms of the shifting ontological and epistemological conditions for representing and experiencing diplomatic identities. In support of this, the article investigates the influence of mediated communication upon the production of knowledge and the ability to experience others through use of the term ‘mediatization’. Mediatization refers to the ways in which communication technologies have become so integrated into everyday activities that our knowledge and experience of the world is significantly altered, often in ways that appear banal and taken for granted. In the diplomatic context, mediatization involves placing pressure on actors to negotiate issues and identity salience in new ways; to coordinate and negotiate over codes and norms for representation within different mediated environments; and to strategically manage identities, messages and representational modalities within objective-led campaigns. This analysis is used to question further the relationship linking communication, diplomacy and public diplomacy, with the conclusion that public diplomacy can no longer be considered as entirely external communicative activities attached to the diplomatic world, since these are — in an age of mediatization — necessarily part of diplomacy proper. Rather, public diplomacy makes most sense in that coordinating role, as a form of semiotic and normative coalition-building within organizations and among connected stakeholders.

The Mediatization of Diplomacy

in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy




Paul Sharp‘For Diplomacy: Representation and the Study of International Relations’International Studies Reviewvol. 1 no. 1 (spring 1999) pp. 33-57 at p. 33.


Paul SharpDiplomatic Theory of International Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2009) p. 100; and James Der Derian On Diplomacy: A Genealogy of Western Estrangement (Oxford: Basil Blackwell 1987).


Sharp‘For Diplomacy’ p. 48.


Sharp‘For Diplomacy’ p. 49. See also Mai’a Davis Cross and Jan Melissen (eds) European Public Diplomacy: Soft Power at Work (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2013); Peter van Ham Social Power in International Politics (Abingdon: Routledge 2010); Brian Hocking ‘Multistakeholder Diplomacy: Forms Functions and Frustrations’ in Kurbalija and Katrandjiev Multistakeholder Diplomacy: Challenges and Opportunities (Malta and Geneva: DiploFoundation 2006) pp. 13-29); Stuart Murray ‘Consolidating the Gains Made in Diplomacy Studies: A Taxonomy’ International Studies Perspectives no. 9 2008 pp. 22-39; Michael Vlahos ‘Public Diplomacy as a Loss of World Authority’ in Nancy Snow and Philip M. Taylor (eds) Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy (London and New York ny: Routledge 2009) pp. 24-38; Andrew F. Cooper Celebrity Diplomacy (Boulder co: Paradigm 2007); Ivo D. Duchacek Daniel Latouche and Garth Stevenson Perforated Sovereignties and International Relations: Trans-Sovereign Contacts of Subnational Governments (New York ny: Greenwood Press 1988); and Noé Cornago ‘On the Normalization of Sub-State Diplomacy’ The Hague Journal of Diplomacy vol. 5 nos. 1-2 2010 pp. 11-36.


Bruce Gregory‘American Public Diplomacy: Enduring Characteristics, Elusive Transformation’The Hague Journal of Diplomacyvol. 6 nos. 3-4 2011 pp. 351-372 at p. 353; Sharp ‘For Diplomacy’ p. 55; Jan Melissen (ed.) The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2005); James Pamment New Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century (Abingdon: Routledge 2013); Craig Hayden The Rhetoric of Soft Power: Public Diplomacy in Global Context (Lanham md: Lexington Books 2012); Amelia Arsenault ‘Public Diplomacy 2.0’ in Philip Seib (ed.) Toward a New Public Diplomacy: Redirecting us Foreign Policy (New York ny: Palgrave MacMillan 2009); and Juergen Kleiner ‘The Inertia of Diplomacy’ Diplomacy & Statecraft vol. 19 no. 2 2008 pp. 321-349.


Gregory‘American Public Diplomacy’ p. 353.


Jarol ManheimStrategic Public Diplomacy and American Foreign Policy: The Evolution of Influence (Oxford: Oxford University Press1994); Eytan Gilboa ‘Diplomacy in the Media Age: Three Models of Uses and Effects’ Diplomacy & Statecraft vol. 12 no. 2 2001 pp. 1-28; Robert M. Entman ‘Theorizing Mediated Public Diplomacy: The us Case’ Press/Politics vol. 13 no. 2 pp. 87-102; and Craig Hayden ‘Social Media at State: Power Practice and Conceptual Limits for us Public Diplomacy’ Global Media Journal fall 2012.


Christer Jönsson and Martin Hall‘Communication: An Essential Aspect of Diplomacy’International Studies Perspectivesno. 4 2003 pp. 195-210 at pp. 206-207; Torbjørn L. Knutsen A History of International Relations Theory (Manchester: Manchester University Press 2nd edition 1997); and Hamilton and Langhorne The Practice of Diplomacy p. 234.


Vladimir V. Putin‘A Plea for Caution from Russia: What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria’The New York Times11 September 2013.


HjarvardThe Mediatization of Culture and Society p. 16.


Justin Elliott‘From Russia with PR’ProPublica12 September 2013 available online at courtesy of


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Gianpietro Mazzoleni and Winfried Schulz‘“Mediatization” of Politics: A Challenge for Democracy?’Political Communicationvol. 16 no. 3 1999 pp. 247-261 at pp. 249-250.


Strömbäck‘Four Phases of Mediatization’ p. 236.


Strömbäck‘Four Phases of Mediatization’238-241.


See for example Jeremy BlackA History of Diplomacy (London: Reaktion Books2010); Hamilton and Langhorne The Practice of Diplomacy pp. 136-139; Knutsen A History of International Relations Theory; and Jönsson and Hall ‘Communication’.


Ralph NegrineThe Transformation of Political Communication: Continuities and Changes in Media and Politics (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan2008); Vincent Mosco The Digital Sublime: Myth Power and Cyberspace (Cambridge ma: mit Press 2005); and Pamment New Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century.


Craig Hayden‘Logics of Narrative and Networks in US Public Diplomacy: Communication Power and US Strategic Engagement’Journal of International Communication2013 p. 6; Hayden ‘Social Media at State’; and us Department of State ‘21st Century Statecraft’ available online at


Schulz‘Reconsidering Mediatization as an Analytical Concept’ pp. 88-89; Murray ‘Consolidating the Gains Made in Diplomacy Studies’ p. 26; and Gilboa ‘Diplomacy in the Media Age’.


Van HamSocial Power in International Politics p. 91; and Schulz ‘Reconsidering Mediatization as an Analytical Concept’ p. 89.


Edward Comor and Hamilton Bean‘America’s “Engagement” Delusion: Critiquing a Public Diplomacy Consensus’International Communication Gazetteno. 74 2012 p. 203; see Hocking Melissen Riordan and Sharp Futures for Diplomacy pp. 26-31 and p. 72.


Sharp‘For Diplomacy’ p. 48; and Brian Hocking ‘Beyond “Newness” and “Decline”: The Development of Catalytic Diplomacy’ paper presented at the ‘Pan-European Conference in International Relations’ Paris 1995.


Strömbäck‘Four Phases of Mediatization’ p. 236; and Marshall McLuhan Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (London: Routledge 1964).


Alisher Faizullaev‘Diplomacy and Symbolism’The Hague Journal of Diplomacyvol. 8 no. 2 2013 pp. 91-114.


Strömbäck‘Four Phases of Mediatization’ p. 237. ‘Intertextuality’ refers to deliberate references between texts that are used to shape meaning.


Jönsson and Hall‘Communication’ pp. 199-200.


SharpDiplomatic Theory of International Relations pp. 76-79; Hocking ‘Beyond “Newness” and “Decline”’; Der Derian On Diplomacy; and M.K. Davis Cross ‘Rethinking Epistemic Communities Twenty Years Later’ Review of International Studies vol. 39 no. 1 2013 pp. 137-160.


Manuel Castells‘The New Public Sphere: Global Civil Society, Communication Networks, and Global Governance’The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Scienceno. 616 2008 pp. 78-93.


Matt Cartmell‘Foreign and Commonwealth Office Axes Director Post Amid Cutbacks’PR Week21 November 2011.


Christensen‘@Sweden’ p. 41.


Jönsson and Hall‘Communication’ pp. 199 and 203-204.


Michele Acuto‘Diplomats in Crisis’Diplomacy & Statecraftvol. 22 no. 3 2011; Cristina Archetti ‘People Processes and Practices: Agency Communication and the Construction of International Relations’ paper presented at the International Studies Association (isa) Annual Convention 3-6 April 2013; Manheim Strategic Public Diplomacy and American Foreign Policy; Schulz ‘Reconsidering Mediatization as an Analytical Concept’; and Strömbäck ‘Four Phases of Mediatization’.


Gilboa‘Diplomacy in the Media Age’ p. 3; Wilson P. Dizard Digital Diplomacy: US Foreign Policy in the Information Age (Westport ct: Greenwood Publishing Group 2001); Philip Seib Real-Time Diplomacy: Politics and Power in the Social Media Era (New York ny: Palgrave Macmillan 2013); Robert M. Entman ‘Theorizing Mediated Public Diplomacy: The US Case’ Press/Politics vol. 13 no. 2 pp. 87-102 at p. 88; and Sheafer and Gabay ‘Mediated Public Diplomacy’ pp. 447-467.


Nadia Kaneva‘Nation Branding: Toward an Agenda for Critical Research’International Journal of Communicationno. 5 2011 pp. 117-141; Gyorgy Szondi Public Diplomacy and Nation Branding: Conceptual Similarities and Differences Discussion Papers in Diplomacy (The Hague: Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’ 2008); Mark Leonard Britain™: Renewing Our Identity (London: Demos 1997); Simon Anholt ‘Nation Brands of the Twenty-first Century’ Journal of Brand Management vol. 5 no. 6 July 1998 pp. 395-406; Simon Anholt Competitive Identity: The New Brand Management for Nations Cities and Regions (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2007); and Kathy R. Fitzpatrick The Future of US Public Diplomacy: An Uncertain Fate (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff 2010).


Aaron BeacomInternational Diplomacy and the Olympic Movement (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan2012); Stuart Murray ‘The Two Halves of Sports Diplomacy’ Diplomacy & Statecraft vol. 23 no. 3 2012 pp. 576-592; R. Levermore and A. Budd (eds) Sport and International Relations: An Emerging Relationship (London: Routledge 2004); and D. Dunn (ed.) Diplomacy at the Highest Level (London: Macmillan 1996).


James Pamment‘“Putting the GREAT Back into Britain”: National Identity, Public-Private Collaboration and Transfers of Brand Equity in 2012’s Global Promotional Campaign’British Journal of Politics and International Relations (forthcoming 2014); and Nadia Kaneva (ed.) Branding Post-Communist Nations: Marketizing National Identities in the ‘New’ Europe (London: Routledge 2012). The meme argument is often put forward by Nick Cull.


Hayden‘Social Media at State’; Ali Fisher, ‘Music for the Jilted Generation: Open-Source Public Diplomacy’The Hague Journal of Diplomacyvol. 3 no. 2 2008 pp. 129-152; and R.S. Zaharna Ali Fisher and Amelia Arsenault Relational Networking and Collaborative Approaches to Public Diplomacy: The Connective Mindshift (New York: Taylor & Francis 2013).

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