Dissertation Abstracts

Representation of People’s Foreign Policy Orientations in the Public Communication of Power Elites

Author: Ivanov, Oleh , dr.zanuda@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine
Supervisor: Dr. Natalia Kostenko
Year of completion: 2012
Language of dissertation: Ukrainian

Keywords: representation , communication , international relati , content analysis
Areas of Research: Political Sociology , Communication, Knowledge and Culture , Social Transformations and Sociology of Development


The thesis presents characteristics and dynamics of representation of publics’ foreign policy orientations in the content of public communication by the power elite.
Theories of social, political and media-representations as well as empirical studies of political communication and orientations are analysed. The functional approach to media communications is defined as the most suitable for the empirical study of political representation. Representation is conceptualised as fundamental communication mechanism in the political sphere, which reproduces social actors’ orientations. Representation in foreign relations is studied as a communicative interaction of external and internal elites and mass publics mediated by the media and public opinion polls.
The functional model of communicative representation explains the stability of the Ukrainian public system from the foreign policy dimension (particularly, Ukraine-Russia relations). It does so through the functionality of foreign policy determined by elites, social tension and conflict of orientations in the transformation period. Politicians’ communication generalised through particular strategies: the hidden (nomenclatura-styled), ambivalent, confrontational, defensive, offensive, flexible (dynamic) and hard (stable).
This thesis discusses how communicative action theory can be used to study social transformations. The preconditions and empirical limitations for the implementation of ideal-type deliberative democratic decision making in the sphere of foreign relations, are discussed. Normatively regulated problems are publicly discussed, alternative solutions are formulated. However, in the foreign policy sphere, elites and mass publics lack basic values that could serve as a prerequisite for effective polylogue. The orientations of voters and politicians do not change significantly, and communication leads to ambiguous decisions. The modern system of social interaction in Ukraine hampers the development of foreign policy, but also potentially improves it with the rotation of differently oriented elites.
This study draws on a computer algorithm for structural and morphological analysis of large amounts of text data--specifically, Ukrainian and Russian messages on official websites. Text corpuses are transformed into the semantic network of an issue, combined with all of the attributes which an analyst may be interested in, including time, place, author, potential audience, and so forth. To analyze a large number of surveys with different sample sizes and different wordings of questions, this study employed the technique of thematic clustering of questions along with content analysis. Foreign policy orientation indexes are calculated using the generalization of answers to specific questions; this is done by summing up the percentage of support of statements representing different geopolitical vectors and smoothing the resulting sums within the time series with LOWESS. A large-scale comparative analysis of foreign policy orientations among Ukrainian and Russian populations allowed us to identify prerequisites for multi-vector Ukrainian foreign policy.
In order to analyze communication at the international level, this study drew on indices of synchrony (i.e. thematic similarities in communication flows — cross-correlation function of time series of encoded messages), symmetry (the relative quantities of thematically related messages between state representatives in the same period of time), level of initiative (using a two-way causality test for between-states communication data) and consolidation of political actors (statistical significance of differences between the standardized frequency of thematically related messages). Using these analytical instruments, we found that a lack of initiative in Ukrainian foreign communication caused disunity in the sphere of foreign policy.

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