The intellectual impetus for international communication research has come from a variety of disciplines, notably political science, sociology, psychology, social psychology, linguistics, anthropology, and, of course, communication science and international relations. Although highly diverse in content, international communication scholarship, past and current, falls into distinct research traditions or areas of inquiry. The content and focus of these have changed over time in response to innovations in communication technologies and to the political environment. The development and spread of radio and film in the 1920s and 1930s increased public awareness and scholarly interest in the phenomenon of the mass media and in issues regarding the impact on public opinion. The extensive use of propaganda as an instrument of policy by all sides in World War I, and the participation of social scientists in the development of this instrument, provided an impetus for the development of both mass communication and international communication studies. There was a heavy emphasis on the micro level effects, the process of persuasion. Strategic considerations prior to and during World War II reinforced this emphasis. World War II became an important catalyst for research in mass communication. Analytical tools of communication research were applied to the tasks of mobilizing domestic public support for the war, understanding enemy propaganda, and developing psychological warfare techniques to influence the morale and opinion of allied and enemy populations. During the Cold War, U.S foreign policy goals continued to shape the direction of much research in international communication, notably “winning hearts and minds” of strategically important populations in the context of the East-West conflict. As new states began to emerge from colonial empires, communication became an important component of research on development. “Development research” emphasized the role of the mass media in guiding and accelerating development. This paradigm shaped both national and international development programs throughout the 1960’s. It resurfaced in the 1980s with a focus on telecommunication, and again in the 1990s, in modified form under the comprehensive label “information and communication technologies for development.” Development communication met serious criticism in the 1970s as the more general modernization paradigm was challenged. The emergence of new information and communication technologies in the 1990s inspired a vast literature on their impact on the global economy, foreign policy, the nation state and, more broadly, on their impact on power structures and social change. The beginning of the 21st century marks a transition point as the scholarship begins to respond to multiple new forms of communication and to new directions taken by the technologies that developed and spread in the latter part of the previous century
A History of International Communication Studies
Elizabeth C. Hanson
Conflict and Nationalist Frames
In the context of nationalist and ethnic struggles, framing refers to strategic communication aimed at changing perceptions and behavior, such as persuading members of a group to unite and fight or their opponents to demobilize. The concept and theory behind framing stem from sociology, and in particular American social movements theory, where they have helped reconcile an interest in the construction of identities and “meaning work” with the study of structures that favor participation in collective endeavors. Framing not only unpacks the processes behind this form of strategic communication through notions such as alignment and resonance, but it has also produced extensive scholarship on types of frames that foster mobilization and the socio-psychological keys they play upon in so doing. Framing theory has also focused on some of the elements contributing to the success—or lack thereof—of communication aimed at persuasion. Considering that participation in crises and conflicts is an extreme form of mobilization, framing has, since the mid-2000s, made headway in conflict studies, where scholars have turned to framing processes to shed light on how people can be convinced to rally around the nationalist or ethnic flag and even take up arms in their group’s name. More recently, framing-centric approaches have been used to shed light on frames deployed in conflicts of a religious nature, as well as in the study of radicalization and the ideological or ideational framing behind it. The future of framing theory with regards to identity-based conflicts depends, however, on scholars’ ability to produce framing concepts and theoretical insights specific to conflict studies able to federate the community or researchers adopting the approach to study armed violence. As growing research on armed conflict turns to understanding the links between national and local realities, framing theorists may in addition benefit from greater attention to local frames and framing dynamics, and how they relate to the broader, elite-driven frames more commonly focused on in the study of armed violence. Finally, though so far little explored, framing proponents may stand to gain from engaging with literature using survey experiments or other promising quantitative approaches that have also sought to generate insights into ethnic relations or government representation and policy regarding crises and war.
Refugee Protection, Securitization, and Liminality
Yvonne Jazz Rowa
The existing scholarship has widely examined security vulnerabilities and challenges within the forced migrant context. A myriad of factors along the complex trajectory of pre- and post-flight have contributed to a dire state of human security. Notably, the protection system has played a major role in the institutionalization of liminality and securitization, and inadvertently intensified refugees’ preexisting vulnerabilities. The literature on global institutions of protection within an evolving global migration landscape exposes the systemic securitization entrenched in the international instruments of protection; for the most part, the protection mechanisms are intrinsically exclusionary. There are also challenges and dilemmas of disentangling security from migration that render conceptual conflations and resultant mechanisms of institutionalization inevitable. Essentially, the architecture of the instruments of protection informs the mechanisms for response. The systemic contradictions within these regimes are therefore likely to be reflected and replicated in their operationalization. The overall dynamics expose humanitarianism and security first, as oppositional imperatives, and secondly, as enduring dilemmas that institutions of protection continuously reconciliate.
Economics of International Communication
Stefan H. Fritsch
International information and communication have become central cornerstones for global economic, political, social, and cultural actors, issues, structures, and processes. Accordingly, various social science disciplines have become interested in understanding international communication’s economic properties and also produced empirical evidence demonstrating its remarkable impact on global economic development. Subsequently, the relationship between technological evolution and the evolving economics of international communication has become of central importance to the analysis of international communication. Of particular relevance in this context is digitization’s impact on information and communication technologies and related digital conversion processes of once separated media and business sectors. In this context, the constantly evolving economic and technological properties of international information and communication systems and the economic opportunities/challenges they pose have also motivated or forced individuals, business enterprises, states, as well as international organizations to pursue structural and policy changes in order to reap the potential benefits of international information and communication.
The Information and Communication Revolution and International Relations
Jonathan D. Aronson and Peter F. Cowhey
Major trends in information and communication technology (ICT) are transforming the global commercial and technology landscape. Since 1945, the US market has been the most consistent agenda setter for the global market. But now, as economic gloom haunts the world, and as a new President settles in the United States, predictions abound that American dominance in international relations will give way to the leadership of China or others. However, if the United States acts vigorously on the policy front, it can maintain its international leadership position until at least 2025. In addition, the information revolution has also accelerated the changing of international actors’ roles. This is because the web and the information revolution had resulted in tremendous security, political, economic, social, and cultural consequences, which altered the roles of countries, companies, non-governmental actors, and international institutions in the conduct of international relations. ICTs can also leave a significant impact on foreign policy, as these can affect democratic and authoritarian rule, as well as give rise to the “CNN effect,” which is a relatively recent phenomenon which has a tendency to alter the extent, depth, and speed of the new global media. As the ICT revolution spreads across the planet it also resets the international relations playing field, with significant consequences for security, and political, economic, social, and cultural interactions.
International Communication in Social Movements and Interest Groups
Ideas and people may be mobilized in order to influence the thinking of policy makers or society to either promote a specific point of view or enact policy in the form of laws or programs that benefit the ideas or people. This mobilization of ideas and people is known as political advocacy, which falls into two broad categories: social action and social mobilization, which can—but not necessarily—give rise to social movements, and interest and lobbying groups. According to Mancur Olson, groups are organized to pursue a common good or benefit. The success or failure of such groups can be explained using models such as the classical model, the resource mobilization model, and the “political process” model. The success of political advocacy is contingent upon a number of interrelated concepts and characteristics, including access to resources (money, people, and time), good leadership, a sense of identity or common focus, and the opportunity to be heard. A movement can distribute its message to its target audience—for example, policy makers, opinion leaders, potential participants, or the public at large—by means of information and communications technologies (ICTs). Two theses are used to assess the effectiveness of ICTs in political advocacy: the mobilization thesis and the reinforcement thesis. The inclusion of international communication has enriched our understanding of how, when, where, and why political advocacy is or is not effective.
International Communication Regimes
International regimes are often described as regularized patterns of cooperative interaction or behavior among international actors such as nation-states. They also provide the most concrete instances of international cooperation. One example is the telecommunications regime, which grapples with issues such as satellites, radio and television broadcasting, surveillance, and sending of voice or data messages. Until the late 1970s or early 1980s, the international communications regime was dominated by state- or privately-owned monopolies in the communication industries. Recently, this cartel has unraveled and communication markets worldwide have moved toward privatization and liberalization, which led to changes in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Intelsat. The ITU was initially seen as strongly resistant to liberalization, but the current view is that it eventually came around to supporting it. The ITU still remains the premier authority arbitrating interconnection protocols, frequency distribution and arbitrations, and weighs in on prices and standards. Intelsat, meanwhile, has become a much weaker organization as a result of the regime change toward liberalization. As competitive private and regional satellite systems have developed, Intelsat is now one among many telecommunication satellite carriers in the world, although it remains the largest provider of fixed satellite services. Various forms of Internet governance have also emerged, reflecting a mix of private and public authorities at national and international levels. In electronic commerce, the emerging regime reflects the overall rubric of the principles and norms of global liberalization.
Nations Across Borders
Katelin Knight and David Romano
As entities who exist superimposed on each other, nations and states have developed complex relationships, both advantageous and detrimental. States view nations favorably when state loyalty develops from marrying the unity of its dominant nation to the state’s institutions, but these governments may also view minority nations as a threat to the unity of their populations. Similarly, nations may benefit from the security and legal protection provided by statehood (as in the case of nation-states) but may also fall victim to the states whose borders they exist within. The latter includes nations settled in states with which they do not identify and whose institutions do not provide the nation adequate representation. States seeking to homogenize their population for nation-state creation have, at times, viewed minority communities, such as these, as a hindrance to their goal and used drastic measures to eliminate them from within their borders. Besides more subtle methods of forced assimilation, such as banning aspects of the minority culture and implementing mandatory re-education, some states have also added ethnic cleansing and genocide as tools for nation-state development. Combating the abuse of minority communities constituted by these events requires an understanding of the different actors at play. While the terms “nation,” “state,” and “nation-state” tend to be used interchangeably throughout media reports, general conversation, and some areas of academia, their distinct meanings should be highlighted. While obtaining statehood involves meeting specific criteria, the development of nationhood does not. Nations exist in various forms and often cross state lines. For many peoples, geopolitical borders do not define the beginning and end of their communities. These nations and groups tend to exist across the territory of multiple states (multistate nations) and/or alongside many other nations within the boundaries of a single state (multinational state). Recognizing the role of multinational states and multistate nations in the global system rests on the ability to differentiate between “nation” and “state.” Thus, realizing the distinction between these terms is the first step in discussing the intricacies of the interactions between nations, states, and nation-states.
Power and Space in Electronic Communications
Philip E. Steinberg and Darren Purcell
Electronic communications refer to forms of communication where ideas and information are embedded in spatially mobile electronic signals. These include the internet, telephony, television, and radio. Electronic communications are linked to state power in a complex and, at times, contradictory manner. More specifically, a tension exists between divergent pressures toward constructing electronic communication spaces as spaces of state power, as spaces of escape, and as spaces for contesting state power. On the one hand, states often invest in infrastructure and empower regulatory institutions as they seek to intensify their presence within national territory, for example, or project their influence beyond territorial borders. The widespread use of electronic communication technologies to facilitate governmental power is especially evident in the realm of cyberwarfare. E-government platforms have also been created to foster interaction with the state through electronic means. On the other hand, communication systems thrive through the idealization (and, ideally, the regulatory construction) of a space without borders, whereby individuals might bypass, or even actively work to subvert, state authority. Just as the internet has been seen as a means for state power to monitor the everyday lives and subjectivities of the citizenry, it has also been employed as a tool for democratization. Various institutions have emerged to govern specific electronic communication networks, including those that are focused on reproducing the power of individual states, those that operate in the realm of intergovernmental organizations, those that devolve power to actors in local government, and those that empower corporations or civil society.
Public diplomacy is a subfield of political science and international relations that involves study of the process and practice by which nation-states and other international actors engage global publics to serve their interests. It developed during the Cold War as an outgrowth of the rise of mass media and public opinion drivers in foreign policy management. The United States, in a bipolar ideological struggle with the Soviet Union, recognized that gaining public support for policy goals among foreign populations worked better at times through direct engagement than traditional, often closed-door, government-to-government contact. Public diplomacy is still not a defined academic field with an underlying theory, although its proximity to the originator of soft power, Joseph Nye, places it closer to the neoliberal school that emphasizes multilateral pluralistic approaches in international relations. The term is a normative replacement for the more pejorative-laden propaganda, centralizes the role of the civilian in international relations to elevate public engagement above the level of manipulation associated with government or corporate propaganda. Building mutual understanding among the actors involved is the value commonly associated with public diplomacy outcomes of an exchange or cultural nature, along with information activities that prioritize the foreign policy goals and national interests of a particular state. In the mid-20th century, public diplomacy’s emphasis was less scholarly and more practical—to influence foreign opinion in competition with nation-state rivals. In the post-Cold War period, the United States in particular pursued market democracy expansion in the newly industrializing countries of the East. Soft power, the negative and positive attraction that flows from an international actor’s culture and behavior, became the favored term associated with public diplomacy. After 9/11, messaging and making a case for one’s agenda to win the hearts and minds of a Muslim-majority public became predominant against the backdrop of a U.S.-led global war on terrorism and two active interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Public diplomacy was utilized in one-way communication campaigns such as the Shared Values Initiative of the U.S. Department of State, which backfired when its target-country audiences rejected the embedded messages as self-serving propaganda. In the 21st century, global civil society and its enemies are on the level of any diplomat or culture minister in matters of public diplomacy. Narrative competition in a digital and networked era is much deeper, broader, and adversarial while the mainstream news media, which formerly set how and what we think about, no longer holds dominance over national and international narratives. Interstate competition has shifted to competition from nonstate actors who use social media as a form of information and influence warfare in international relations. As disparate scholars and practitioners continue to acknowledge public diplomacy approaches, the research agenda will remain case-driven, corporate-centric (with the infusion of public relations), less theoretical, and more global than its Anglo-American roots.
Public Perceptions of International Terrorism
Terrorist violence appeals to and pivots on the creation and dissemination of fear. In that respect, it hinges on public perceptions and threat manufacturing to have policy impact. Scholars have long recognized that terrorist actors appeal to multiple audiences, including the public audience. By sowing fear, actors hope that the public will put pressure on the target regime to enact policy concessions to militants or that policymakers, fearing the erosion of public support, will bend to the terrorists’ demands. Recognizing this, it behooves scholars to delineate the mechanisms that shape perceptions and parse the different types of emotional and cognitive responses that terrorist violence arouses. Violence inculcates a range of public responses, most notably, anxiety, fear, anger, and perceptions of threat. These responses may vary with individual demographics, such as gender and age, but are also guided by the political environment in which individuals are embedded. Variegated emotive responses have important policy consequences as distinct emotions are associated with different policy demands. On the whole, psychological reactions to terrorism underlie the effectiveness of terrorism and have downstream social, political, and cultural ramifications.
Technology and Development in International Communication
Nanette S. Levinson
Over the last six decades, discussions and approaches to communication and development have evolved considerably. Some of these changes particularly focus on the transformation of the nation-state role, from its initial conception to its current formation, as well as the transition from the study of political and economic progress to the analysis of cultural components and social development today. These major approaches include modernization, diffusion of innovation, dependency paradigm, monistic-emancipatory approach, institutional theory approach, industrial policy, strategic restructuring model, evolutionary paradigm, interorganizational approach, ecosystem approach, and an approach that highlights culture, power, age, gender and disability dimensions. Part of this investigation includes research trends in communication and development. Scholarship identifying such trends highlights newer technologies as well as a continuing presence of digital inequalities. Additional research is needed to capture processes such as cross-organizational and cross-cultural learning and improvisation in terms of communication and development, and to recognize the roles of power and culture in these domains. Furthermore, taking a co-processes approach prevents one from assuming that there is only one correct pathway in the field of communication and development
Technology Standards in International Communication
Technology standards are norms or requirements established by consensus and approved by a recognized body that sets uniform engineering or technical criteria. They also come in three types: reference, minimum quality, and compatibility standards. A reference standard is a material, device, or instrument whose assigned value is known relative to national standards or nationally accepted measurement systems. A minimum quality standard, meanwhile, sets criteria for quality, permitting sellers to certify a good or a service as meeting (or not) those criteria. Finally, compatibility standards set criteria for how a device works with other devices. Technology standards have always been important in the world economy, but they are becoming more so in the electronic age. Firms compete with one another for the prestige of establishing a new standard and especially technology platforms or architectures, and governments try to get standards adopted internationally that result in more local jobs and income. This is increasingly difficult as the world economy becomes more global, but that poses no deterrent. International relations scholars have adopted economist and rationalist choice approaches to standard setting in technology. They go beyond them, however, to talk about standards as part of an overall governance system or regime, especially in international affairs.
Using Facebook as an Educational Resource in the Classroom
Carolyn M. Shaw
Facebook is a social networking site created in 2004 which has since obtained over a billion users, and it has the potential to facilitate learning in the classroom. With the widespread use of Facebook in society, it simply makes sense to look into ways it might be used in higher education. In fact, a number of studies have been done by scholars in different disciplines regarding the use of Facebook (in general and in academia). These include studies by scholars in library science, education, media and communication, psychology, management information systems, business, political science, marketing, instructional technology, and commerce and accounting. Students come to school wired and are willing and eager to use technology, but higher education has a well-established trend toward non-adoption of new technologies. A variety of studies on the use of Facebook, however, indicate that there are a wide number of potential benefits to using Facebook as an educational tool. There are four inter-related potential benefits: creating a sense of community and promoting collaboration, enhancing communication between instructors and students, developing computer literacy and language skills, and incorporating current student culture into the learning environment. In addition, Facebook is particularly well suited for sharing and discussion of current events in the news.