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International Communication Regimes  

J.P. Singh

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.


A History of International Communication Studies  

Elizabeth C. Hanson

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


Technology and International Relations  

Sai Felicia Krishna-Hensel

Throughout history, technology has played a significant role in international relations (IR). Technological development is an important factor underlying much of humanity’s social, economic, and political development, as well as in interstate and interregional relationships. Beginning with the earliest tool industries of the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods to the present time, technology has been an integral component of the transformative processes that resulted in the organization, expansion, and establishment of distinctive societies. The presence or absence of equal access to technology has often determined the nature of relationships between societies and civilizations. Technology increases the options available to policymakers in their pursuit of the goals of the state, but also complicates their decision making. The question of whether, and how much, technological change has influenced IR has been the subject of considerable debate. Scholars are divided on the emphasis that should be placed on technological progress as an independent variable in the study of relations between states and as a factor in analyzing power configurations in the international system. Among the scientific and technological revolutions that are believed to have contributed to the changing nature of power and relations between states are transportation and communication, the industrial revolution, the nuclear revolution, and the contemporary information revolution. Future research should focus on how these technological changes are going to influence the debates on power, deterrence, diplomacy, and other instruments of IR.


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.


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 and challenges they pose also challenge 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 or to address emerging negative side effects.


International Communication in Social Movements and Interest Groups  

Kenneth Rogerson

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.


Internet Governance  

Milton Mueller

The internet is a set of software instructions (known as “protocols”) capable of transmitting data over networks. These protocols were designed to facilitate the movement of data across independently managed networks and different physical media, and not to survive a nuclear war as the popular myth suggests. The use of the internet protocols gives rise to technical, legal, regulatory, and policy problems that become the main concern of internet governance. Because the internet is a key component of the infrastructure for a growing digital economy, internet governance has turned into an increasingly high-stakes arena for political activity. The world’s convergence on the internet protocols for computer communications, coupled with the proliferation of a variety of increasingly inexpensive digital devices that can be networked, has created a new set of geopolitical issues around information and communication technologies. These problems are intertwined with a broader set of public policy issues such as freedom of expression, privacy, transnational crime, the security of states and critical infrastructure, intellectual property, trade, and economic regulation. Political scientists and International Relations scholars have been slow to attack these problems, in part due to the difficulty of recognizing governance issues when they are embedded in a highly technological context. Internet governance is closely related to, and has evolved out of, debates over digital convergence, telecommunications policy, and media regulation.