«It’s the context, stupid»: The European Union’s public diplomacy in times of ontological insecurity
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Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Navarra
Pavón-Guinea, A. (Andrea). "«It’s the context, stupid»: The European Union’s public diplomacy in times of ontological insecurity". Communication & Society. 36 (2), 2023, 291 - 309
Public diplomacy, despite its numerous and varied definitions, is essentially a communications process. By engaging the academic literature of public diplomacy with Lasswell’s model of communication and Braddock’s rearticulation of his model, this paper proposes an integrated framework that allows for the systematization of public diplomacy research. The framework is composed of the independent variable of context, which influences a set of dependent variables: the actors, publics, messages, objectives and tools of public diplomacy. Accordingly, this paper argues that public diplomacy research has been traditionally approached from an agent-centric perspective, and despite its obvious significance, the influence of context has been understudied. In order to test the utility of the model, the paper applies it to the case study of the European Union’s public diplomacy during two different settings. First, it will expose the main characteristics of the EU’s public diplomacy during times of globalization, where the EU’s public diplomacy was characterized by its normativity. Subsequently, the current context of deglobalization and de-europeanization will be introduced and analyzed through the following research question: what happens to the EU’s public diplomacy when the founding myth upon which it is constructed is under threat? By altering the context, one can easily see an emerging but clear transformation of the characteristics of the EU’s public diplomacy. By analyzing official, policy, and legal documents, and engaging with the academic literature on the topic, the paper concludes that the main objective of the EU’s public diplomacy in a changing world should be to provide for ontological security through (emotional) strategic metanarratives.

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