The Mediatization of Diplomacy

In: The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
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  • 1 University of Texas at Austin, R-T-F, Karlstad University, Austin, TX 78712, United States

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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.

  • 1

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

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  • 2

    Paul Sharp, Diplomatic Theory of International Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. 100; and James Der Derian, On Diplomacy: A Genealogy of Western Estrangement (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987).

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  • 4

    Sharp, ‘For Diplomacy’, p. 48.

  • 6

    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.

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  • 7

    Bruce Gregory, ‘American Public Diplomacy: Enduring Characteristics, Elusive Transformation’, The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, vol. 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.

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    Gregory, ‘American Public Diplomacy’, p. 353.

  • 9

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  • 11

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    Strömbäck, ‘Four Phases of Mediatization’, p. 236.

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    Strömbäck, ‘Four Phases of Mediatization’, 238-241.

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    See, for example, Jeremy Black, A History of Diplomacy (London: Reaktion Books, 2010); Hamilton and Langhorne, The Practice of Diplomacy, pp. 136-139; Knutsen, A History of International Relations Theory; and Jönsson and Hall, ‘Communication’.

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  • 29

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  • 32

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

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  • 45

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  • 46

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

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  • 51

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

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