Against the Current: Back to Public Diplomacy as Government Communication

Seong-Hun Yun


The scholarship on public diplomacy has become particularly unsettled about who is the actor of the practice. The state (government) has been traditionally viewed as the actor, whereas non-states also have been recognized from the perspective of “public diplomacy as social practice.” With the societist perspective having become a strong current of opinion, its proponents now mount a bounded thrust to further delimit qualifications for non-states as actors. This article addresses such dissensus against the societist current by taking issue with the two bounded qualifications—“the public interests” and “the national interests”—and by criticizing the former for being politically biased and the latter for being indeterminate in designating specific non-states as actors. This article then makes a proposal for a return to public diplomacy as government communication, in which non-states are treated as actors in “the global public sphere,” while the government as the sole actor in public diplomacy.


public diplomacy, definition, states, non-states

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