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date: 30 November 2020

The Media and Foreign Policylocked

  • Piers RobinsonPiers RobinsonDepartment of Journalism Studies, The University of Sheffield

Summary

In this critical overview of the research to date on media and foreign policy, the relationship between media and public opinion and key international relations theories is described and two key research strands are examined. The first research strand concerns the liberal-pluralist approach to analyzing media and foreign policy and considering the media (and public opinion) as both a constraint on foreign policy and an instigator of policy. The second strand concerns the elite-driven model and theorizes media as largely subservient to foreign policy elites and, frequently, as an agent of manipulation and influence with regard to public opinion. It is argued that, on balance, there is greater theoretical and empirical evidence in support of the elite-driven model. Before concluding with a suggested research agenda for the future, two key developments concerning the new media environment and contemporary propaganda are discussed. In particular, it is maintained that research on media and foreign policy needs to give closer attention to propaganda activities and that urgent questions remain unanswered about whether or not the new media environment is increasing or decreasing the power of publics and media to influence foreign policy.

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