Social media are increasingly important tools in diplomacy. Diplomats are expected to use social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to communicate with each other and with both the domestic and international publics. This form of communication involves displaying positive emotions to generate attention in a competitive information environment. Emotions are essential to managing perceptions, conveying signals and safeguarding state reputations in traditional diplomacy. Commercial demands of online performance, however, activate new dimensions and challenges in the management of emotions in diplomacy. As digital disinformation and populist campaigns have transgressed the boundaries of domestic public debate, diplomats must also display emotional restraint to contain and counter such influence. This article analyses how diplomats perceive the demands of digital diplomacy and how emotions are engaged in their efforts to perform competently both online and offline. The study draws on fieldwork and interviews with 13 European diplomats as well as document analysis of handbooks and training material used to transfer ‘emotional communication skills’ to diplomats. The study findings suggest that the demands of digital diplomacy are challenging traditional enactments of ‘the good diplomat’. In addition to the tensions between outreach and countering communication practices, the emotional labour in digital diplomacy extends beyond what we see on social media. Diplomats perceive the expectations of constant performance online to at times conflict with their professional role offline.
Adler-Nissen, R. and Eggeling, K.A. (2022) Blended diplomacy: the entanglement and contestation of digital technologies in everyday diplomatic practice, European Journal of International Relations, 28(3): 640–66. doi: 10.1177/13540661221107837
Adler-Nissen, R., Eggeling, K.A. and Wangen, P. (2021) Machine anthropology: a view from international relations, Big Data & Society, online first.
Bergman Rosamond, A. and Hedling, E. (2022) The digital storytelling of feminist foreign policy: Sweden’s state feminism in digital diplomacy, European Journal of Politics and Gender, 5(3): 303–21.
Bjola, C. and Pamment, J. (2018) Countering Online Propaganda and Extremism: The Dark Side of Digital Diplomacy, London: Routledge.
Boler, M. and Davis, E. (2018) The affective politics of the ‘Post-truth’ era: feeling rules and networked subjectivity, Emotion, Space and Society, 17: 75–85. doi: 10.1016/j.emospa.2018.03.002
Bridgen, L. (2011) Emotional labour and the pursuit of the personal brand: public relations practioners’ use of social media, Journal of Media Practice, 12(1): 61–76. doi: 10.1386/jmpr.12.1.61_1
Coleman, E.G. (2010) Ethnographic approaches to digital media, Annual Review of Anthropology, 39: 487–505. doi: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.012809.104945
Collins, R. (2004) Interaction Ritual Chains, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Cornut, J. (2022) Emotional practices and how we can trace them: diplomats, emojis, and multilateral negotiations at the UNHRC, International Studies Quarterly, 66(3): sqac048. doi: 10.1093/isq/sqac048
Danielson, A. and Hedling, E. (2022) Visual diplomacy in virtual summitry: status signalling during the coronavirus crisis, Review of International Studies, 48(2): 243–61. doi: 10.1017/S0260210521000607
Der Derian, J. (1987) Mediating estrangement: a theory for diplomacy, Review of International Studies, 13(2): 91–110. doi: 10.1017/S0260210500113671
Domett, T. (2005) Soft power in global politics? Diplomatic partners as transversal actors, Australian Journal of Political Science, 40(2): 289–306. doi: 10.1080/10361140500130014
Duncombe, C. (2019a) Digital diplomacy: emotion and identity in the public realm, Hague Journal of Diplomacy, 14: 102–116. doi: 10.1163/1871191X-14101016
Duncombe, C. (2019b) The politics of twitter: emotions and the power of social media, International Political Sociology, 13: 409–29. doi: 10.1093/ips/olz013
Eggeling, K.A. and Adler-Nissen, R. (2021) The synthetic situation in diplomacy: scopic media and the digital mediation of estrangement, Global Studies Quarterly, 1(2), doi: 10.1093/isagsq/ksab005.
Goffman, E. (1969) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, New York: Doubleday.
Graham, S.E. (2014) Emotion and public diplomacy: dispositions in international communications, dialogue and persuasion, International Studies Review, 16(4): 522–39.
Hall, T.H. (2015) Emotional Diplomacy: Official Emotion on the International Stage, New York: Cornell University Press.
Hall, T.H. and Yahri-Milo, K. (2012) The personal touch: leaders’ impressions, costly signaling, and assessments of sincerity in international affairs, International Studies Quarterly, 56(3): 560–73. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2012.00731.x
Hedling, E. (2021) Transforming practices of diplomacy: the European external action service and digital disinformation, International Affairs, 97(3): 841–59. doi: 10.1093/ia/iiab035
Hedling, E. and Bremberg, N. (2021) Practice approaches to the digital transformations of diplomacy: toward a new research agenda, International Studies Review, 23(4): 1595–618. doi: 10.1093/isr/viab027
Hochschild, A.R. (1979) Emotion work, feeling rules, and social structure, American Journal of Sociology, 85: 551–75. doi: 10.1086/227049
Hochschild, A.R. (1983/2012) The Managed Heart: The Commercialization of Human Feeling, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Holmes, M. (2018) Face-to-Face Diplomacy: Social Neuroscience and International Relations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Holmes, M. and Wheeler, N. (2020) Social bonding in diplomacy, International Theory, 12(1): 133–61. doi: 10.1017/S1752971919000162
Jones, A. and Clark, J. (2019) Performance, emotions, and diplomacy in the United Nations assemblage in New York, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 109(4): 1262–78. doi: 10.1080/24694452.2018.1509689
Jönsson, C. and Hall, M. (2003) Communication: an essential aspect of diplomacy, International Studies Perspectives, 4(2): 195–210.
Keys, B. and Yorke, C. (2019) Personal and political emotions in the mind of the diplomat, Political Psychology, 40(6): 1235–49. doi: 10.1111/pops.12628
Knorr Cetina, K. (2009) The synthetic situation: interactionism for a global world, Symbolic Interaction, 32(1): 61–87. doi: 10.1525/si.2009.32.1.61
Knorr Cetina, K. and Bruegger, U. (2002) Global microstructures: the virtual societies of financial markets, American Journal of Sociology, 107(4): 905–50. doi: 10.1086/341045
Lechner, S. and Frost, M. (2018) Practice Theory and International Relations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
McConnell, F. (2018) Performing diplomatic decorum: repertoires of ‘appropriate’ behavior in the margins of international diplomacy, International Political Sociology, 12: 362–81. doi: 10.1093/ips/oly021
Nair, D. (2020) Emotional labor and the power of international bureaucrats, International Studies Quarterly, 64: 573–87. doi: 10.1093/isq/sqaa030
Nelson, J. (2017) Using conceptual depth criteria: addressing the challenge of reaching saturation in qualitative research, Qualitative Research, 17(5): 554–70. doi: 10.1177/1468794116679873
Neumann, I.B. (2002) Returning practice to the linguistic turn: the case of diplomacy, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 31(3): 627–651. doi: 10.1177/03058298020310031201
Ng, K.H. and Kidder, J.L. (2010) Toward a theory of emotive performance: with lessons from how politicians do anger, Sociological Theory, 28(2): 193–214. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9558.2010.01373.x
Papacharissi, Z. (2015) Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology and Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Pearce, J.S. (2019) Managing emotion online, Emotion, Space and Society, 33: 100618. doi: 10.1016/j.emospa.2019.100618
Scheff, T.J. (2000) Shame and the social bond: a sociological theory, Sociological Theory, 8(1): 84–99. doi: 10.1111/0735-2751.00089
Seib, P. (2016) The Future of Diplomacy, New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Serrano-Puche, J. (2021) Digital disinformation and emotions: exploring the social risks of affective polarization, International Review of Sociology, 31(2): 231–45. doi: 10.1080/03906701.2021.1947953
Stark, L. (2020) Affective Politics of Digital Media. Propaganda by Other Means, London: Routledge.
Toubiana, M. and Zietsma, C. (2017) The message is on the wall? Emotions, social media and the dynamics of institutional complexity, Academy of Management Journal, 60(3): 922–53. doi: 10.5465/amj.2014.0208
Turkle, S. (2008) Always-on/always-on-you: the tethered self, in JE Katz (ed) Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, Cambridge, MA: MIT, pp 121–38.
van Dijck, J. and Poell, T. (2013) Understanding social media logic, Media and Communication, 1(1): 2–14. doi: 10.17645/mac.v1i1.70
Wong, S. (2016) Emotions and the communication of intentions in face-to-face diplomacy, European Journal of International Relations, 22(1): 144–67.
|May 2022 onwards||Past Year||Past 30 Days|
|Full Text Views||469||469||201|