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The Populist Style and Public Diplomacy: Kayfabe as Performative Agonism in Trump’s Twitter Posts.

Surowiec, P. and Miles, C., 2021. The Populist Style and Public Diplomacy: Kayfabe as Performative Agonism in Trump’s Twitter Posts. Public Relations Inquiry, 10 (1), 5-30.

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DOI: 10.1177/2046147X20979294


This article theorises the interplay between public diplomacy and populism. Building on Baudrillard’s simulacra, we advance the hybridity approach to soft power statecraft by analysing a cultural shift in US presidential public diplomacy. Using discourse analysis, we uncover how, rather than aiding the building of relationships with foreign publics, Donald Trump has brought to the field cultural codes alien to public diplomacy, imploding the meanings central to the endogenous norms of diplomacy, and turning towards an agonistic relational dynamic with foreign publics. This article reveals how digitalisation enables the expansion of Trump’s populist style and foregrounds the populist cultural shift visible in his Twitter discourse. To reveal this dynamic in granular detail, we propose ‘kayfabe’ as an epistemic lens for the interpretation of the populist style at the core of Trump’s ‘simulated public diplomacy’. As well as considering how socialities are re-shaping relational dynamics, this article unpacks the tensions that stem from the expansion of populist style into the realm of presidential public diplomacy. Finally, we reflect on the implications of the epistemic crisis of US public diplomacy for the larger strategic landscape of political uncertainties associated with the proliferation of populism in the field.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:soft power; public diplomacy; populism; kayfabe; cultural implosion; Baudrillard
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:34755
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:02 Nov 2020 16:35
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:24


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