External Communication in Social Media During Asymmetric Conflicts
A Theoretical Model and Empirical Case Study of the Conflict in Israel and Palestine
Social media increasingly shapes the way in which we perceive conflicts and conflict parties abroad. Conflict parties, therefore, have started using social media strategically to influence public opinion abroad. This book explores the phenomenon by examining, (1) which strategies of external communication conflict parties use during asymmetric conflicts and (2) what shapes the selection of these communication strategies. In a comprehensive case study of the conflict in Israel and Palestine, Bernd Hirschberger shows that the selection of strategies of external communication is shaped by the (asymmetric) conflict structure.
»Bernd Hirschberger’s new book is to be welcomed as an important and original contribution to a recently transformed aspect of intense political conflict. The subject of external communication by conflicting parties has always been a major aspect of study in relation to propaganda and public diplomacy. But this book considers the topic more broadly in a context where the revolution in social media at all levels has irrevocably transformed the situation. At the heart of this analysis lies the deep question of asymmetry of power in all its forms and how strategies of external communication are shaped by underlying conflict structures and the operational environment. Hirschberger’s book is thoroughly researched and impeccable in its critical methodology, considering alternative theses and checking the central ›quantifying qualitative‹ approach with large-scale ›automated quantitative‹ data on the one hand and interviews on the other. Above all, mercifully free of jargon, the paraphernalia of scholarship is not allowed to obscure the clarity of the central argument. An abundance of detailed examples taken from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, together with helpful conceptual tables, accompany the central thesis that in this asymmetric conflict the selection of strategies for external communication differ sharply as a result of the asymmetric relationship between the ›top dog‹ (the State of Israel) and the ›under dog‹ (the PLO/PNA and Hamas). For the former strategic interest dictates a ›branding‹ strategy to transmit a positive image of Israel that resonates with prevailing values in the recipient societies. For the latter strategic interest dictates a ›shaming‹ strategy that strikes a powerful chord with international ethical-legal norms. This theme is powerfully presented. It is suggested that this may find an echo in other asymmetric conflicts. And that there are important lessons for conflict theorists and conflict resolution practitioners, and for educationalists and the social media, as well as for Israelis and Palestinians themselves in their continuing struggles to elicit third party support. « (Oliver Ramsbotham, University of Bradford)
26 July 2021, 312 pages
File size: 5.71 MB