Blending Politics and New Media : Mediatized Practices of EU Digital Diplomacy

Abstract: This thesis explores the relationship between politics and new media in the context of digital diplomacy at the European External Action Service (EEAS) 2011-2017. In contrast to dominant approaches to the mediatization of politics that consider political logic to be dominated or even replaced by media logic, it gives greater emphasis to the role of the political context, its actors and their practices. In effect, attention is directed to the ways in which a diplomatic organization internalizes media logic. This entails that the thesis develops a politics-centered approach to the mediatization of politics where mediatization is considered an inter-institutional process. It argues that this process can be studied through attention to everyday practices that signal varying degrees of blending logics. Using the case of the EU’s digital diplomacy, it studies how practices of digital diplomacy have developed and are talked about among their practitioners. The empirical material consists of 23 informant interviews conducted during a number of visits to the EEAS in Brussels, official documents, newsletters and social media observations (Twitter, Facebook and YouTube). The case study analyzes the development of digital diplomacy at the EEAS through three empirical snapshots that illustrate crisis management communication during the Ukraine crisis 2013-2014, responses to Russian disinformation 2015-2016 and the projection of the EU Global Strategy 2016-2017. The conclusion is that the mediatization of politics happens through an interaction of media logic (here new media) and the hosting political context, where expectations, threats, leadership, resources, skills, learning and individuals influence the practices where new media and diplomacy ultimately blend.