This chapter will describe in what way the main problem will be approached – including which theories will be used and what role they play in the thesis, which data will be used and the analytical approach. It is the hope that this chapter will help give a logical framework for the thesis, will help clarify why the thesis is structured the way it is and why this is a suitable way to reach a conclusion.
The theories which will be used to analyze the problem are all based in quite conventional theories within international relations – neorealism, neoliberalism and constructivism. The latter two theories have been chosen because they can both be conducive to the analysis of the problem instead of dismissing the importance of public diplomacy, nation branding and similar concepts right away – which a theory like neorealism would have a tendency to do. Within neoliberalism the main concept used will be Joseph S. Nye’s soft power, which stresses the existence and importance of other power factors than military and economic might – which he terms hard power. The acknowledgement of the power of attractiveness being just as military and economic power and worth competing over will help justify the existence and growing importance of public diplomacy, nation branding and other communicative strategies of conducting foreign affairs and will ultimately – it is hoped – provide a path to understanding whether these approaches signify a more effective way of achieving foreign policy goals compared to traditional diplomatic tools.
Constructivism will be used as it can possibly attribute even more importance to the increased focus on dialogue and communication in international relations than neoliberalism and soft power can. The reason for this being that constructivism is more open to the potential change of the most basic of mechanisms in international relations. Therefore it will be explored whether the new approaches might be a tool of states to change the most basic premises of the community of states in the world of today.
The final theory utilized in the thesis will be neorealism. The choice has fallen upon this theory to maintain a critical view of the new communicative approaches to diplomacy and international relations and question the importance of it altogether. Furthermore it will pose counter arguments to the other two theories and thereby help driving forth the analysis and discussion of the problem.
It is standing out that the choices of theories are all very state-centred which might be considered as quite old-fashioned, but taking the problem formulation in to account this is the most obvious way to approach the problem. As focus is on the traditional diplomacy and its utilization of these new concepts the theoretical focus will therefore also need to be centred on state agents. Even though international organizations, NGOs, big business and civil society in general all can be involved in both public diplomacy, nation branding or cultural diplomacy in one way or the other focus remains on state institutions and their views on international relations.
After this chapter of methodology the empirical chapters will follow. These will include a short outline of the development of traditional diplomacy and ministries of foreign affairs which will set the setting from where the new concepts will have to be viewed in relations to the scope of the thesis. The short outline will be followed by a presentation of the three communicative aspects of the new way of conducting diplomacy, namely – public diplomacy, nation branding and cultural diplomacy. The main focus will be on the concept of public diplomacy as this must be deemed the most significant new approach to diplomacy and foreign affairs. Cultural diplomacy is not a new concept in international relations but will be presented together with public diplomacy and nation branding nonetheless as it is so closely related to these and overlaps the two other concepts in several areas.
After the empirical chapter the three theories mentioned above will be presented and discussed after which the analysis will follow. In the analysis the explanatory models of the three theories above will be applied to the empirical evidence and will be poised against each other. The analysis will generally be quite heavy on the theoretical side as the new public diplomacy in particular still is a fairly new phenomenon and difficult to measure in general so undisputable empirical evidence is generally limited and difficult to come by. Furthermore it is the theoretical discussion which is truly the most interesting aspect of the possibilities of public diplomacy, nation branding and cultural diplomacy, as this cannot be answered unless one has a clear understanding, or rather belief, of how the dynamics of international relations truly work and whether the mechanisms are static or not. As an extension to this, the data which will be used in the thesis will be of a secondary character.
As the main premise of this thesis is involving the changed focus of the traditional diplomatic institutions an outline of how diplomacy was established and evolved is essential to maintain the relevance of the problem itself. Furthermore expanding this historical outline to cover diplomacy in general is thought to provide a fundamental basis of understanding for how public diplomacy, nation branding and cultural diplomacy potentially might benefit from the diplomatic machinery already in place – i.e. the contacts and reputation of the embassies and to a lesser extent the consulates might have.
Diplomacy is as old as civilization itself, with the first signs of rudimentary diplomatic activity taking place as long ago as possibly the fourth millennium BC in the near and middle east. At this time the diplomatic activity was quite sporadic as communication over long distances by traders and messengers was very slow and unpredictable. In antiquity diplomatic practice began to evolve both in frequency and in mutually accepted norms – such as diplomatic immunity. This can possibly be attributed to the multitude of small – usually coastal – Greek city states compared to the large inland empires of the ancient Near and Middle East. (Berridge 2005: 1-2)