Publications

The Spectrum of Listening

Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy (2nd edition), 2020

Although there is a general consensus on the need for listening in public diplomacy, a clear definition of this activity and clear parameters defining how listening should be conducted and evaluated has largely been missing. In this chapter I describe the “spectrum of listening”, a framework which makes explicit public diplomacy listening approaches, ranging from the ideal type of apophatic listening to surreptitious listening activities. In between these two extremes, there are four approaches for listening in public diplomacy: active, tactical, listening in, and background/casual listening. The spectrum brings epistemological awareness in public diplomacy listening activities, in particular in relation to social media listening. I argue that the spectrum of listening can help practitioners to rethink listening as a range of methodological options and as a representational act, rather than as a mere tool shaped and driven only by technological advancements.

Conceptualising public diplomacy listening on social media

Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 16, pages 131–142 (2020)

Public diplomacy consists of the public and interactive dimensions of diplomacy. Although listening is one of its core activities, public diplomacy scholarship has not yet engaged with listening theory. This paper connects public diplomacy scholarship with a new wave of literature that has argued that listening is a critical and previously neglected component of dialogic engagement. By reviewing this literature, this paper develops a framework for the ‘spectrum of listening’ and categorises five types of public diplomacy listening on social media. The review is followed by a descriptive profile of each type of listening. Using this spectrum, this paper endorses active listening and the embedded concept of dialogic engagement as a concrete yardstick by which to assess successful public diplomacy listening on social media. Listening could be narrowly interpreted as a way to implement and readjust a national strategy, or more broadly and ambitiously as an activity that aims to advance international understanding. The paper considers listening to be a representational force: a public and active response to publics who are increasingly demanding not only to participate, but also to be listened to.

Blog post: The Spectrum of Listening

Blog posted published on the USC Centre on Public Diplomacy blog site.


Listening is a representational force: a public and active response to publics who are increasingly demanding not only to participate, but also to be listened to.