Week 1 Blog Discussion: Public Diplomacy

Week 1 – 1) How would you describe public diplomacy to someone who was not familiar with the term? How would you convince them that it was important? 

Public diplomacy in current age can be viewed as a state-based communication strategy used by state government and other foreign ministries to engage and persuade foreign publics and authorities for the purpose of enhancing their soft power, in order to build and manage relationships, while more importantly, to influence thoughts and mobilize action to advance their interests and values.

Joseph Nye, a professor from Harvard Kennedy School had first identified the term “soft power” as the means of global power shift, to ways in which a nation’s culture facilitates a form of power that enhances, or even substitutes for hard power such as military and economic strength. He further concluded this term as “the ability to shape the preferences of others.” The importance of public diplomacy thus can be seen as an extension and development of Carr’s idea of “power over opinion” and Lukes’ “third dimension of power,” both of which shed light on the communication power specifically as how the attractiveness of a nation’s culture, ideologies, policies, education and diplomacy give it the capacity to persuade other nations to willingly adopt its goals.

While people often find it’s hard to identify the term public diplomacy and propaganda, theoretically, there is a definite differentiation between public diplomacy and propaganda, in which public diplomacy provides a truthful, factual exposition and explication of a nation’s foreign policy and way of life to overseas audiences; encourages international understanding; listens and engages in dialogue; objectively displays national achievements overseas, including in the arts. However, propaganda forces its messages to an audience, often by repetition and slogans; simplifies complex issues, including history; misrepresents the truth or deliberately lies.


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