Anthony S. Deos, University of Otago
For diplomatic relations, the ability to influence through attraction, or soft power,
rather than hard power is preferable in the interconnected 21st century global
society. Although debate remains regarding the objectives of public diplomacy, the relational approach offers opportunities for reaching the goal of mutual
understanding. The emergence of new public diplomacy and the relational approach coincided with extensive innovation in communication technologies. The digital arena became a possible place for outreach, interaction, and the generation of social capital. These limited studies into digital diplomacy initiatives have focused on quantitative measures and structural aspects. However, the mechanisms that provide for social capital development still require investigation. Therefore, questions remain about whether social capital is being generated through digital diplomacy, and if so, how? This research offers a framework for evaluating the development of trust and reciprocity, presumed prerequisites for social capital generation, through four components of relational interaction: access, openness, credibility, and commitment. This framework is then used to investigate the digital diplomacy initiatives of two specific cases—the US and Israel. Results suggest that digital diplomacy can generate social capital via a relational approach using communicative action. However, social capital is contextual and has both positive and negative implications for diplomatic relations.