Research

Traditional Meets Digital

Diplomatic Processes on Social Media

This project attempts to provide conceptual explanations to diplomatic interactions on social media through an analysis of existing communication networks and practices. The research is motivated by two fundamental changes in communication technologies and processes influencing the traditional understandings of international relations. First, social media is seen as a platform on which diplomatic processes take place. With theubiquitous adaptation of social media, traditional diplomats make use of these tools in their communication attempts with their constituents and other diplomats. Diplomatic signaling and recognition processes take place in a digital environment. Second, non-state actors – such as civil society groups and corporations – gain powerand further legitimacy in the international arena. Through social media, individuals have the opportunity todigitally get organized and make their voices heard by the traditional players of diplomacy, i.e. states andinternational organizations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The project will explore a variety of contemporaryissues that lie in the intersection of communications and international relations.How did the social media change traditional diplomacy? How do certain non-state groups andinstitutions organize themselves and situate themselves as legitimate actors in the international arena? How are social identities negotiated? How do states communicate with each other in the new media ecology? This project is likely to yield both academic and practical outcomes. On the academic side,the interdisciplinary nature of the project design shows the role of communication in theinternational political arena. Moreover, the proposed conceptual explanations make it easierto analyze diplomatic processes on social media. On the practical side, the findings of theresearch can be adapted by diplomats to improve their international communication practices.

 

Development or Promotion

Development Assistance as a Public Diplomacy Instrument in Turkey

This study attempts to explain the interaction between international development aim activities and public diplomacy by analyzing the Turkish practice and official discourse. Turkey is relatively new to the public and development diplomacy practices. The concept of public diplomacy was not seen in the policy discourses until 2004. The first institution bearing the name ‘public diplomacy’ was established in 2010. Yet, the country seems to be determined to be seen as an active public diplomacy actor and to conceptualize its place in the international development community as a public diplomacy tool. Turkey takes pride in and promotes itself through being a donor country and drastically increasing both its official humanitarian and development assistance contributions. Given these changes, Turkey stands out as a crucial case to understand the interaction between development aid and public diplomacy, as well as the impacts of both activities on the perception of the country.

Our main research objective is to explore the relationship between development and public diplomacy through the case of Turkey. We analyze and explain how official development assistance and other forms of international aid are carried out and how such projects as well as their outcomes are used in public diplomacy and other promotional outreach activities. Even though the Western cases tend to portray development and public diplomacy as two separate but relevant practices, Turkey seems to situate development aid as a fundamental public diplomacy tool.

Turkish public diplomacy is coordinated by the “Office of Public Diplomacy” (Kamu Diplomasisi Koordinatörlüğü – KDK), whereas development projects are predominantly executed by Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (Türk İşbirliği ve Koordinasyon Ajansı – TIKA) and Housing Development Administration (Toplu Konut İdaresi Başkanlığı – TOKI) with all three institutions being housed under the Prime Ministry. In other words, the Prime Ministry oversees and brings together three institutions, with the former one focusing on public diplomacy and latter two on development aid. Therefore, we argue that in order to provide an inclusive picture of Turkish activities, an analysis of practice – especially the interaction between the aforementioned institutions – is warranted.

We explore the Turkish case in two parts. First, following a historical institutionalism approach, we examine the organizational and bureaucratic relations between relevant organizations. We specifically explain the transitions in the mandates of TIKA and TOKI that took place in the last decade. Subsequently, we focus on the role of KDK and the Prime Ministry as coordinating agencies. Second, we carry out a discourse analysis and study the official reports and speeches that belong to TIKA, TOKI, KDK, and the Prime Ministry. We position “public diplomacy” and “development aid” as main concepts and analyze how these two terms are defined and used, both independently and in-relation to each other.

Our findings will three main practical and theoretical implications. First, we introduce a relatively understudied case study, Turkey, and argue that non-American and non-Western cases have the potential to enrich our understanding of public diplomacy. Second, we present Turkey as a crucial case that explains the interplay and contradictions between public diplomacy with development projects. Last, we provide nuanced conceptualizations of public diplomacy and development/aid diplomacy based on the Turkish experience

Theorizing Soft Power

Understanding Soft Power through Public Diplomacy

This study re-evaluates the traditional understanding of soft power (e.g. following the works of Joseph Nye) through the practice of public diplomacy in order to provide an updated explanation of soft power and its impact on international relations. Soft power was coined towards the end of the Cold War, in an attempt to refer to the possibility of influencing behavior through non-coercive means. Public diplomacy practitioners – the state practice of communicating with foreign publics – especially in the case of the United States of America, embraced soft power and initially formulated their outreach and communication strategies through Cold War-influenced power calculations. However, two decades after the introduction of soft power, public diplomacy practice drifted away from the aforementioned power calculations, such as soft power projection and balance of soft power, and moved towards a communication understanding based on establishing relations and creating social networks. Inspired by the works of Peter van Ham on social power, Steven Lukes on power, and Michael Barnett and Raymond Duvall on power and international politics; this study proposes a power framework attempting to explain the role of non-coercive means in international politics through an analysis of select public diplomacy episodes from diverse practitioner countries.

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