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Strategic Publics in Public Diplomacy: A Typology and a Heuristic Device for Multiple Publics

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How do governments select their public diplomacy targets? Officials can shake handswith important allies’ presidents, they can honour writers from far-away states, or they can visit slums to meet victims of violence. This article proposes a conceptual typology of strategic publics based on two dimensions: the strategic importance of the represented polity; and the individual’s power position. The variables are parallel to universal psychological dimensions of social cognition — that is, warmth and competence — and they are combined with diplomatic theories revolving around the primacy of representation. Six ideal types of strategic publics are defined and exemplified. The typology integrates governmental and non-governmental, foreign and domestic, and elite and non-elite publics. In addition, the article proposes a three-level heuristic device that facilitates the analysis of cases with multiple publics. The proposed analytical tools seek to stimulate future efforts to refine conceptualizations of strategic publics.

Affiliations: 1: Nouvelle Europe 1120 ViennaAustria

* The author extends his special thanks to Pierre H.N. Martin. He is also indebted to Manon Bellon, Svetlana Kim, Liu Yongtao, and Sun Fanglu, as well as to two anonymous reviewers, for their excellent and critical comments.

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