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date: 14 December 2018

Summary and Keywords

Public opinion has long been associated with diplomacy. The earliest records of public involvement in diplomacy are available from the city-states of ancient Greece, where diplomats in the Greek city-states were chosen by public assemblies following thorough public deliberations. However, the growth of a sense of professional community among diplomats following the rise of foreign ministries led to a gradual structuring of the communication patterns. Most generally, a cleavage started to appear between modes of communication in relation to actors within the professional community and in relation to actors outside it. Within the diplomatic community, communication followed the rules, norms, and procedures of emerging diplomatic practice and ceremony. Outside the diplomatic community, the patterns that emerged can be conceptualized along two paths: (1) information gathering, and (2) informing the public at home and abroad about foreign policy. Modern professional diplomacy has been seeking to strike a balance between limiting public access to diplomatic processes and trying to communicate with the public with the aim of generating a public opinion favorable to government foreign policy. The current information-intensive global environment poses a challenge to foreign ministries’ institutionalized mode of limited public communication along two dimensions: the rising importance of so-called public diplomacy, and the increasing need for public legitimization of foreign policy decisions.

Keywords: public opinion, public diplomacy, diplomats, diplomatic communication, diplomatic community, foreign policy

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