Online Diplomatic Participation Using Diplotainment: A Conceptual Exploration and Illustrative Analysis

Extending the debate on the role of social media in international politics in general, and online diplomatic participation in particular, this paper seeks to conceptualise the communicative modalities for public engagement with foreign policy issues at the crossroads of public diplomacy and transnational activism. Specifically, I theorise the emergence of ‘diplotainment’, a campaigning genre that mixes mimicry of diplomatic officialdom with the affective power of promotionally-styled counter-narratives. I argue that diplotainment has the potential to counter state public diplomacy through the opportunistic, improvised operationalisation of the affordances of social media, and the creative coupling of soft power resources into less formal modalities, fusing entertainment and subversive content in a hybrid, satirical form. As an illustration, I use a mixed methods approach to analyse a hybrid media activism campaign, ‘Every Second Counts’, inspired by the Dutch talk-show, ‘Zondag Met Lubach’.


Dr Paweł Surowiec-Capell is Senior Lecturer (Ass. Prof.) at the University of Sheffield specialising in strategic communication and political communication. His research focuses on questions relating to the reinvention of classical models of propaganda, digitalisation of political campaigning as well as diplomacy and statecraft. His academic research has been published in a number of international journals.

He is the author of the research monograph, ‘Nation Branding, Public Relations and Soft Power: Corporatising Poland’ (Routledge, 2017), and the co-editor of ‘Social Media and Politics in Central and Eastern Europe’ (Routledge, 2018) and ‘Public Diplomacy and the Politics of Uncertainty’ (Palgrave, 2021). He is currently working on a monograph exploring ‘Hybridisation of Power in International Politics’.

Paweł previously served as ECREA’s treasurer and sits on the Chatham House’s steering committee for the Belvedere Forum. His work has been featured in news in the Czech Republic, Poland, the United Kingdom, France, and Japan. He is a follower of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup and likes to listen to music of Fryderyk Chopin and Polish jazz.

He tweets at @PawelSurowiec.