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Performing EU Foreign Policy Leadership: A Dramaturgical Approach

Working paper
Författare Lisbeth Aggestam
Elsa Hedling
Förlag CERGU Working Paper Series 2019: 2
Förlagsort Gothenburg
Publiceringsår 2019
Publicerad vid Centrum för Europaforskning (CERGU)
Statsvetenskapliga institutionen
Språk en
Länkar https://cergu.gu.se/digitalAssets/1...
Ämnesord Leaderization, new social media, foreign policy, public diplomacy, European Union, High Representative
Ämneskategorier Statsvetenskap, Medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap


Leadership in foreign policy has been a much debated and contested issue in the history of European integration. Two key challenges of leadership have been the distance to the European publics and the absence of a coherent voice in the world. The aim of this paper is to examine leadership in the context of the mediatization of politics, specifically in the field of foreign policy. We argue that the construction and enactment of European political leadership is increasingly driven by communication strategies that seeks to move beyond the strict intergovernmental constraints of EU foreign policy to address new audiences – both internal and external – to legitimize the European Union as a global actor. We call this process ‘leaderization’ and focus on the case of the empowered position of the EU High Representative (HR) to strengthen the visibility and voice of the EU in the world and vis- a-vis European citizens. Our theoretical contribution is to bring three bodies of literature together: leadership studies, theories of mediatization and new public diplomacy. This has not previously been done in a systematic way. What makes our theoretical framework original is our use of a sociological approach that draw on Goffman, Burke and role theory, where actors are envisaged to act out “dramas” based on scripts and props vis- à-vis an audience. We suggest that the diplomatic policy process of the EU Global Strategy offered a stage on which Mogherini could frame the EU and herself in a central position – what we call “leaderization” – to mobilize greater legitimacy for the EU as a global actor and her own role within the process of EU foreign policy-making. What is of particular interest to us is to compare how the stage, the scripts and actors are framed in different forms of media, ranging from traditional written speeches, to newer forms of online media like Twitter and Facebook.

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