Friday, February 2, 2018

India’s Mediated Public Diplomacy on Social Media: Building Agendas and National Reputation in South Asia

InfoGarud-Patkar, Nisha,

image (not from entry) from

2017, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Ohio University, Journalism (Communication).

One tool in India’s mediated public diplomacy is the increasing use of social media platforms to build agendas and national reputation among foreign audiences. In 2017, the Indian government ranks seventh in the world in its use of social media for diplomacy and has more than 1.2 million users following its diplomatic accounts on several social media platforms. Despite this high ranking and a sizable following on social media, little research has been done to understand India’s mediated public diplomacy through Twitter and Facebook. To address this literature gap, this study investigates India’s mediated public diplomacy on social media in South Asia based on the theoretical models of agenda building and reputation building.

First, the agenda-building model was examined through both a quantitative analysis of content published on 15 Indian government social media accounts and a survey of the social media users who follow these accounts. A total of 6,000 tweets and status updates published on the 15 accounts of the Ministry of External Affairs, Indian Diplomacy, and embassies in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were analyzed. Second, a reputation-building model surveyed national reputation factors for India such as engagement, online social relations, and information sources among social media users. 

Results show that there is an agenda-building linkage between the Indian government agendas and the agendas of South Asian social media users. Politics, culture, economy/finance, and infrastructure were the top-ranked agendas of the Indian government on social media. For social media users, the top-ranked agendas were education, health and medicine, environment, economy/finance, and infrastructure. Results also show that social media engagement and information sources such as traditional media from the social media users’ home country and social networking sites predict national reputation. However, factors such as the strength of online social relations and Indian information sources (both traditional and online) do not predict national reputation for India.

This study makes several contributions to the emerging field of mediated public diplomacy on social media. First, it provides an exploratory account of how India mediates public diplomacy on Facebook and Twitter in South Asia. Second, the agenda building study contributes empirical evidence from measures of perceptions of social media users in South Asia. Third, it takes a quantitative approach that supports the theoretical propositions of scholars that social media is an important mediated public diplomacy tool, particularly for national reputation building in India and to some extent, South Asia.

Kalyango, Jr. Yusuf, Dr. (Advisor)
Srivastava Jatin, Dr. (Committee Member)
Ross Andrew, Dr. (Committee Member)
Howard Steve, Dr. (Committee Member)

213 p.

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